Russian Ballet Returned to the Stage. Then a Covid Outbreak Hit.

Russian Ballet Returned to the Stage. Then a Covid Outbreak Hit.

Russian Ballet Returned to the Stage. Then a Covid Outbreak Hit.

Russian Ballet Returned to the Stage. Then a Covid Outbreak Hit.

The news, Ms. Theobald said, would not change her company’s plan to hold a gala on Aug. 27, which will feature a maximum of six dancers onstage at a time, all staying at least three meters, or about 10 feet, apart. The Mariinsky’s experience showed that “testing once a week is not enough,” she said, adding that the Staatsballett could not afford to test its dancers every day.

The Mariinsky is not the only Russian company to have been affected by coronavirus. The Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow, had a positive test in its corps de ballet this month, Makhar Vaziev, its ballet director, said in a telephone interview. When that dancer became ill, the company sent home 54 people who had been in classes with her, Mr. Vaziev said. They all later tested negative for the virus. “Thank God everything is fine,” he added.

The Bolshoi is now testing its dancers weekly, urging them to limit contact with one another and ordering them to wear masks when outside the studio. The company intends to return to its theater on Sept. 10 with four new commissions, followed by “Romeo and Juliet” on Sep. 15. Those programs will involve contact.

Mr. Vaziev said that the company would cancel shows if there was an outbreak. But, he added, he understood that dancers need to work. “The longer dancers don’t have a chance to be onstage, the more they lose,” he said.

Europe’s dance companies, many financed by their governments, are far ahead of American ones in returning to the stage. Several major companies in France, Germany and Austria restarted classes in May as lockdowns were eased, with some now gearing up for shows before socially distanced audiences to mark the beginning of the fall season. Those productions are scheduled to occur even as coronavirus cases are swerving upward across Europe.

In Russia, where President Vladimir V. Putin in July declared the battle against the coronavirus won, worries about the pandemic have receded in recent weeks, with bars and the subway in Moscow crowded. On Aug. 11, it became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine despite global health bodies saying it had yet to complete clinical trials.


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