It was to be The Nutcracker ballet’s triumphant return to the stage in front of a full audience.
The cherished holiday tradition was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But less than a week after the Tchaikovsky-scored production took to the stage this holiday season at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Province of Ontario announced 50 per cent capacity restrictions for indoor performing arts venues.
Then, on Tuesday, The National Ballet of Canada cancelled remaining shows of The Nutcracker due to breakthrough cases of COVID-19 within the company ranks.
“All our ticketholders have been notified and they will all receive options, including a full refund and keeping their tickets for Nutcracker 2022,” a statement said.
“We are very disappointed, but the safety of our artists, audiences and staff is our top priority.”
Prior to the cancellation, officials highlighted their COVID precautions.
“For the past 22 months, the National Ballet has been able to remain clear of COVID-19 with the dancers, musicians, staff and crew being fully vaccinated and rigorous testing and strict safety protocols in place. The National Ballet will continue to prioritize the health and safety of its artists, staff and audiences,” said Anastasia Kolotova, officer of communications and media relations at The National Ballet of Canada in a statement to Global News.
“The Nutcracker is the bread and butter for North American ballet companies,” said Barry Hughson, executive director of The National Ballet of Canada.
“But even more importantly, it’s a gateway production. It’s an opportunity for families to experience classical ballet … and to be introduced to our art form,” Hughson added.
The National Ballet of Canada announced in September The Nutcracker would make a comeback in 2021 with some adaptations to ensure the safety of artists and audiences.
These included the mandatory vaccination of all National Ballet of Canada employees and audience members.
Children in the audience, under 12, had to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours or a negative antigen test within 48 hours.
Members of the audience also had to wear a mask at all times.
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Stacy Dimitropoulos is the wardrobe supervisor for the National Ballet of Canada.
“There are well over 200 costumes in Nutcracker,” said Dimitropoulos.
But many of the costumes weren’t to be worn by the usual cast of local children as extra dancers who take to the stage as a group of little lambs or scurrying mice. In addition, no celebrity guests performed the role of the cannon dolls.
Despite all of this year’s pivoting pirouettes, the company was still impacted by COVID and has cancelled shows for the second straight year.
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