Much has been written about the regret felt by athletes over the cancellation of championship tourneys at the collegiate and high school level, the shutdown of almost all professional sporting events, and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Their disappointment is shared by fans and supporters of their teams and events. Likewise, performing artists who have spent a lifetime honing their skills plus many weeks of rehearsals to present their talents in a highly-anticipated performance where they share their gifts with an appreciative audience are remorseful at the loss of that opportunity.
Karen Russo Burke, artistic director of Dayton Ballet Company, sent a message to friends of the Ballet last week expressing how she feels now that her company’s season has come to an abrupt end just days before the ballet’s final performances were to be revealed to the public. As she contemplated the empty studio, she realized with a heavy heart that no one would ever see the triumphant results of all the work done for the upcoming show. “I know how important it is to learn something, gradually meet the challenge of it, and then be able to get the satisfaction of sharing it with others; knowing that we would not perform for you was devastating,” she stated.
The bright lights of Broadway are now dark; theatre companies across the nation have closed down. Actors, directors, designers, technicians, musicians, and others are seeing their efforts in support of a production come to naught. Close to home, the show won’t go on for Dayton’s professional Human Race Theatre Company, as well as Dayton Theatre Guild, Dayton Playhouse, and other area community theaters. As a Theatre Guild member explained, “The emotional toll on a group of actors and production team who have worked tirelessly to create a beautiful piece of art and then have the plug pulled on what you wanted the theater community to experience is heartbreaking, to say the least.”
Everyone associated with the arts understands the heartbreak, the feeling of devastation; a lifetime of preparation as well as weeks of intensive rehearsals go into each production which hopefully results in an almost magical energy exchange, an intensely personal form of interactive communication that binds artist and audience members. More than just providing entertainment and escape from daily cares, the arts can bring joy, fulfillment, purpose, and enlightenment to lives.
Like all other arts presenters, Darke County Center for the Arts’ plans for future events are either canceled or on hold while the current health crisis plays out. Although connections between performing artists and their audiences are temporarily physically broken during this intermission, a strong bond remains. As they must do, artists are sharing their talents in innovative ways, performing impromptu concerts available on-line, providing comfort and inspiration to others in spite of social distancing. While we face the as always unknown future together, we can still turn to the performing arts for the solace and inspiration found in coming together to share an uplifting experience, even though the performances may not be those we happily anticipated and sorely miss.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.