Nashville Ballet closed the doors to its Martin Center facility on March 11 and later canceled the remainder of its 2019-2020 performances due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But, as they say, the show must go on! So, the Ballet launched its Saturday Night with Nashville Ballet online series. Each week, they have shared performances from years past and new works created virtually during the pandemic. On June 13 at 5:00 p.m., the company will present its second offering of Digital Emergence, an online version of the Ballet’s regular spring Emergence performance.
To learn a bit more about what it takes to put together an original performance while isolated at home, Collette Tilinski and Erin Williams, two of Nashville Ballet’s company apprentices, shared how they’re staying in shape and keeping up their technique during the pandemic.
How have you been practicing and keeping up your skills during the shutdown?
Colette: Nashville Ballet has been very diligent in giving the company dancers resources to maintain our physical fitness and technique in quarantine. Each morning I take Zoom Company Class followed by an additional Pointe or Conditioning class from 9:30-11:20 am. I take all of these classes from my kitchen/ living room, and they are taught by our lovely ballet masters! In the afternoon we have scheduled Zoom rehearsals varying between 11:30-6:00 p.m. with choreographers for Digital Emergence. Rehearsals can range from learning new choreography, refining steps and musicality, and filming a final product to create a digital piece.
View this post on Instagram
If you’ve been watching our story, you know that yesterday our Company picked up marley provided by our awesome production team so they could more safely practice at home. 🏡 We’re still reacting to the continuous effects of COVID-19; while things are tough, seeing Company artists, like @colette_tilinski here, dance from home makes us so excited for next season!
Erin: I’ve set up a little studio in my dining room, too. I taped down a small piece of marley floor that Nashville Ballet provided and have a ballet barre that my dad built set up to take zoom company class each morning. I really enjoy taking the conditioning class with some of the other girls in the company, and on days when it’s not offered I normally go on a long walk or do my own HIIT workout. I end the day with a little stretch or yoga before bed, and that keeps my body feeling relaxed and loose.
What do you miss most about being in the studio?
Erin: I miss my Nashville Ballet family so much. Seeing everyone around the studio and being able to dance next to them is my favorite, so it’s hard not being around them. Aside from that, I miss having unlimited space. I miss being able to move and travel across the floor in combinations. It’s pretty disorienting to turn or balance in a confined room, so I can’t wait to be back in a large studio!
Colette: I also miss the people that fill the studio most. I am inspired daily by watching and learning from my fellow coworkers, ballet masters, directors and friends in the company. It has been a challenge to not have the camaraderie that we would usually have if we were physically together in the studio. Of course, as a dancer, I miss being able to jump, turn, and travel across the floor without boundaries, but I really look forward to the day where I can see all of us as a company together again in one studio.
What have you liked about the shift to staying at home? Will you incorporate any changes into your regular daily routine once you’re back in the studio?
Erin: Other than not having to drive in morning traffic... No, in all seriousness I’ve figured out that sometimes less is more. I get mental and physical clarity when I just put on my headphones and give myself a simple barre right now. Once we get back I will definitely find more time to go into a studio alone and focus on the basics.
Colette: I have had a bit more down time staying at home that has allowed me to explore my other interests besides ballet. I am working on a bachelor’s degree and have completed two online college courses in the midst of COVID. I have also enjoyed pushing myself to stay physically active in other ways besides ballet including our conditioning class, virtual yoga, and taking long walks outside to get fresh air. I believe it is very important to look after mental and physical health outside of work, especially when staying home for long periods of time like this!
What do you enjoy most about the Digital Emergence offering?
Colette: As dancers and artists we have been forced out of our comfort zones given the circumstances of COVID-19. We are conditioned to performing our work on stage in a theatre or creating it in a studio. Digital Emergence has challenged me to become more flexible and creative in not only my dancing, but also in my ideas of what “performing” could look like virtually. I have enjoyed watching the final product of each digital piece the most. Specifically, how each choreographer has made use of all of the different spaces, homes, even backyards. Each dancer in the piece has to make it one cohesive dance.
Erin: I’ve enjoyed working at a faster pace, and getting to share content quickly has been a really nice opportunity. I also love that it has produced a variety of really creative new works. It is extremely different to anything we’ve done before and will probably do again, so it’s nice to appreciate it while it’s happening.
As you, like Erin and Colette, enjoy the arts at home, be sure to order one of our three special edition Gift Batches to enhance your viewing experience! Nashville Ballet Gift Batches will go on sale June 8. Check out the Shut Up and (Watch) Dance With Me Batch, Wake Up and Dance Batch, and Saturday Night with Nashville Ballet Batch today. A significant portion of all Nashville Ballet Gift Batch sales will go directly to the Nashville Ballet, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.