Surprisingly – and it seems everything is surprising these days – though New York's great stages, concert halls, theaters and museums have closed temporarily, many of our cultural treasures have become more accessible to more people than ever before. Live streamed performances, online broadcasts of past performances, Instagram TV, Facebook Live and other platforms have brought artists and audiences together virtually. Staying home doesn't have to mean staying away from our arts organizations, nor does it mean we can't keep supporting them, so they can continue creating wonders for seasons to come.
Across Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center at Home is a new gateway to the great music and dance we love and more. There are popup classes given on Facebook Live daily at 2 p.m. by dancers, musicians, songwriters, set designers and artists to keep learners young and old engaged and active. The Metropolitan Opera has promised to stream a title from its Live in HD every evening till the curtains rise again, with broadcasts in the coming week (at 7:30 p.m.) including Verdi's "Don Carlo" and "Macbeth," and Bizet’s "Les Pêcheurs de Perles." There are concerts from the Chamber Music Society weekdays at 12:30 p.m., recordings from Jazz at Lincoln Center, a barre class with Julliard's Alicia Graf Mack, and performances from Lincoln Center Offstage that took place in studios, museums, and clubs. A calendar is available to help you plan your must-sees.
The NY Philharmonic has created NY Phil Plays On to bring music, musicians and audiences together virtually. There are over 150 hours of content, including YPC Play (young people's concerts with lessons and games). Recordings of past concerts are available at a click. For context, there's a searchable archive where you can learn about the history of the orchestra. There you'll meet harpist, Stephanie Goldner, the orchestra's first female member, who's being highlighted as part of Project 19 a multi-season initiative commissioning new works by 19 female composers to celebrate the centennial of American women's right to vote.
It's particularly moving to watch the We Are NY Phil @ Home videos. There, you'll see musicians in their tee shirts, in their dining rooms, in all their intimacy and brilliance, making music together virtually or alone, but making us feel as though we're sitting in a chair opposite them. As for all arts institutions, the economic effects of COVID-19 have caused difficulties for the NY Philharmonic. If you've got a ticket for an upcoming performance, you can donate the cost back to them, rather than requesting a refund.
Ballet Hispánico and Alvin Ailey
Two spectacular dance companies are celebrating anniversaries this season. Both are sending their art and love to audiences virtually.
Ballet Hispánico had great plans for its milestone 50th season. Artistic director Eduardo Vilaro put together a program that was scheduled to run at the The Joyce Theater, celebrating the work of generations of renowned Latinx artists. Now, premieres of new performances as well as favorites from the past are being presented in their Instagram series, B Unidos. Videos will be posted every weekday featuring members of the professional company, teachers from the dance school, and their Community Arts Partnership. Says Vilaro, "Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing. Ballet Hispánico was founded upon and has always believed in the importance of reaching and servicing our community through dance and culture." If you want to reach back, use the "Support" button on their website, ballethispanico.org.
Ailey All Access went live on March 30th, the anniversary of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's first performance. The website is bringing dance and dancers into people's homes with streaming performances, as well as classes, workshops, and conversations with Ailey dancers. Among the offerings is Ailey's groundbreaking masterpiece, "Revelations," a monumental, uplifting, inspiring work of art. See it, and be enriched. The Ailey School's students can access lessons from home, and Ailey Arts In Education & Community Programs will share recorded dance classes for grades Pre-K through 12 with lessons in West African style dance, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Modern. There are also videos sessions of Ailey Dance for Active Seniors. The idea, they state, is "to build community, uplift with Ailey’s artistry, and celebrate the indomitable human spirit through dance." Again, support for the organization is just a click away.
If you've only dipped a toe into social media, or haven't even done that, this might be the time. All kinds of treasures await on Instagram, through Twitter, and on Facebook Live. You can use any name you want, and you don't have to have followers or post anything. You can just watch, listen, dance, see films, and attend vicariously. It helps to remember that many of these organizations are scrambling to provide content and deliver the balm of music, dance, and art. Some of the calendars and websites are works in progress, so it may take a few tries to find your favorites. No one said an expanded mind, an uplifted spirit, or enlightenment come easily, but through the generosity of our beloved cultural institutions, for the moment, they're free.