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COVID & the Arts: Ballet QC Moves Outdoors

Ballet Quad Cities

The professional dance company Ballet Quad Cities is starting its new season outdoors with two performances at the Outing Club in Davenport this Sunday, August 30th. 

The 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows, at the Outing Club, will be on a temporary stage on the lawn at the 125-year-old, member–owned, private club. Audience members should bring their own chairs and blankets – there will be plenty of room to spread out on the lawn. Tickets will not be sold on site, but cost $20 at balletquadcities.com.

Company member Nicholas Bartolotti, in his second season with BQC, says there will be something for everyone in the fun, informal program.

“The show we’re putting together is kind of a mixed rep show, it’s got a little bit of everything. We’ve got some classical pieces; we’ve got some musical theater pieces. It’s even got some tap in there. Some of these dances are old favorites that we’re bringing back and others are brand new.”

“There’s about eight of us performing in the show. We’ve been utilizing our space so a lot of our pieces don’t involve the entire company. Sometimes, just two of us, or three of us, or solos. So we have a lot of space to be able to space out amongst each other. When we are rehearsing pieces that require the whole company, often times we’ll go outside and rehearse on one of the lawns across the street, at one of the churches. If we are all inside, taking classes together, where we’re a little more on top of each other, we are wearing masks.”

Due to Covid-19 concerns, the dancers limit the amount of touching they do during performance. Bartolotti said they’re experimenting with new ways to partner with each other, without physically touching each other. They’re leaving it up to audience members to wear face masks, and the dancers won’t be wearing masks.

Credit Ballet Quad Cities
Caroline Cady

Caroline Cady, who will also be performing, has danced in “Ballet Under the Stars” at Lincoln Park in Rock Island, for over 10 years. She says outdoor performances are a lot of fun. 

“The audience is definitely a lot closer to us. It feels more personable to us, than being on stage with a huge audience. You can make eye contact with people; you can recognize audience members. It’s really a fun experience.”

Cady, a 19-year-old graduate of Rock Island High School, has been dancing with Ballet Quad Cities since she was 3. She was in New York City for two months last year to dance with the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, but unfortunately got a stress fracture while she was there and had to come back home.

“It’s been super fun to be back at the studio again, and I’ve been able to teach and perform, so it’s great.”

Cady will be a guest with the company this season, and has been a trainee in the past. She is attending Loyola University, Chicago, remotely.

“It’s just a really nice outlet. I feel like life can be pretty stressful, so coming into the studio and just being able to let go and focus on something very specific, and putting your own artistic spin on it is very therapeutic.”

Bartolotti, who's 27, is in his second season with Ballet Quad Cities moving from Hudson Valley, New York, where he began his dance training at his mother’s dance studio at a young age.

“It’s a really fun, creative outlet for kids. Other than the technique and art form that is dance, especially at a young age, it’s really good for kids just to learn basic everyday skills like following directions, or learning certain coordination skills they might learn in sports. This is a different type of outlet where kids can do that. Students that fall in love with it and really want to take it seriously going forward, because how demanding it is, it’s often super important for students to start at a pretty young age.”

He trained at American Academy of Ballet for a number of years, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Adelphi University, in New York. Among his credits are various works with the New York City-based Amy Marshall Dance Company, where he toured internationally.

For Sunday’s program, a charcuterie picnic box will be available to order for $20, and there will be a cash-only bar. BQC plans to have another outdoor performance at the Outing Club in September and an abridged “Nutcracker” in the round in the ballroom during the holiday season.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.
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