The Paris Opera Ballet is supposed to be back into the studios tomorrow, after all this time: Confinement since mid-March, a short period of ballet classes back in the studios with social distancing until beginning of July, then summer vacation until now. Yet, the spread of coronavirus has not yet been controlled… with more than 3000 new confirmed cases in France just yesterday, the authorities are considering to impose stricter social distancing rules in the next few weeks/days. Masks are now compulsory even outdoor in Paris and possibly indoor too. The Paris Opera is quite unlucky to start their season in the coming week as planned, exactly at the moment when we have record high number of cases since the deconfinement, and governmental rules getting stricter and stricter. In particular, gathering with more than 10 people are now forbidden in Paris when the social distancing rules are not possible.
We are asked to be tested (PCR test, the painful-looking one with a long cotton swab in your nose…) before going back to classes. However, such short-notice before our first class on coming Tuesday is quite a challenge. Especially when all the medical laboratories are very busy right now in the city…….
Anyway, no one knows what’s going to happen for the Opera in the coming weeks/months, neither do we know what’s going to happen in the world simply. Let’s hope for the best, but we can at least look at the past and review how we went through the past few months.
Zoom classes and rehearsals
During the lockdown, when everyone had to stay at home, the world of ballet had no choice but to move everything to the internet. We could do simple classes with a computer and a camera with Zoom or other online platforms. I was grateful to be given the opportunity to try giving a Zoom Class myself. However, no matter how hard I tried, teaching through Zoom is still a lot harder than teaching live in a studio. It just takes too much more effort for the teacher and for the students. Poor students in Hong Kong have often limited space at home and almost never a suitable floor for ballet. It was a very interesting experience. My conclusion: it is possible but not very realistic.
Myself as a dancer, I have been working on a duet project with a French pianist, which consists of creating a solo on a piece of music. We had no other choice than to rehearse through Zoom with the choreographer. Unlike classes with amateurs students, rehearsals through Zoom are, I think, possible between professionals who have the experience and can use visualisation to do some parts of the work. But for me still, it has been a little painful…
The city of Paris during the lockdown and still today …… is like never before. La Butte Montmartre, Versailles, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées….. All these touristic spots which are usually so packed with tourists 7 days/7, 365 days a year, suddenly appear to be eerily quiet and empty. An unique period for the French locals to visit these places without having to queue up for hours, as long as they visit with a mask!
The lockdown deprived us of so much of our “normal” life. Now that the lockdown is partly lifted, being able to walk around in the city, going to the shops, buying the food that we like in the supermarkets…. all these ordinary parts of my life suddenly become much more valuable in my “new normal”.
Everything… just stopped!
When the lockdown was announced officially at the French television, I was still so worried and stressed, about the rehearsals that I was going to have at Opera Bastille in the coming week, the gala performances (I was going to have several galas later in the month, would I be able to perform well? Would I be too tired??) So many problems and worries…. And suddenly everything just stopped, literally stopped. Galas and productions were cancelled one after another, and we started to wonder whether we would ever start dancing on stage again…
One lesson: “We never know.” Who could have imagined?
Only one thing is sure for now, in September I am starting my master degree online program, and will be doing an internship mostly from home. Well, because it is online and can be done only with a computer, I say it is sure. Or is it? Would there be a day when the internet just stops?