Opening night is one week away for Grand Rapids Ballet

The audience must wear masks and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Otherwise, they expect a normal return to the stage.

The members of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company are in some of their final rehearsals before their comeback performance on October 15th at the Peter Martin Weg Theater.

Off the Canvas will be the first program in your home theater in more than 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Off the Canvas shows three different choreographers exploring art in motion and being inspired by the world of fine arts.

“It’s a really exciting show and it’s a great program for us to get back on stage with a bang,” says Art Director James Sofranko.

He says there’s a reason the ballet waited a few months after Michigan reopened to put on personal performances at the theater.

“Usually our performance season starts in October and we have a little summer break,” says Sofranko. “We wanted to take advantage of the outdoors, the beautiful summers West Michigan has to offer, and perform as much outdoors as possible to keep everyone, our dancers and our audience safe.”

Company member Emily Reed has been dancing since she was three and has been part of the Grand Rapids Ballet since 2018. The 18-month closure has been tough for her and other dancers.

“As artists, we had to do our best to maintain the technology and everyday life,” she says. “I’m just so happy to be here again. It feels like home when everyone is here doing what we do.”

“It was a journey and it was sad,” says company member Ednis Gomez. “It was stressful too, but I’m grateful that we’re on the other side here.”

The dancers have been doing outdoor and virtual performances in the meantime, but it just wasn’t the same. The ballet company will continue to film their performances so that they can also be shared virtually.

“We’re used to being the black box of the theater too, sharing the space and creating a moment and a connection with everyone,” says Gomez.

The audience must wear masks and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Otherwise, they expect a normal return to the stage.

“When the audience is there, it’s just that extra magical element that makes them more alive,” says Reed.

Off the Canvas opens next Friday, October 15th and lasts through the weekend. Right now, about two-thirds of tickets are being sold for each night, a little less than before COVID-19, but they are hoping more people will come to this comeback performance.

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