TULSA, OK – Tulsa Ballet continues to innovate and evolve despite facing financial and safety constraints due to COVID-19. For the first time, Tulsa Ballet and Richmond Ballet will collaborate on a World Premiere piece choreographed by Tulsa Ballet Resident Choreographer Ma Cong. The piece will be part of the upcoming Creations Reimaginedperformances held in Tulsa Ballet’s Studio K starting at the end of October and will then be performed for Virginia audiences later in the season. With Cong assuming the role of Associate Artistic Director at Richmond Ballet in 2022, the collaboration was inevitable and welcomed.
“In spite this pandemic, companies like Richmond Ballet and Tulsa Ballet remain committed to producing high quality programs for their audiences,” says Artistic Director Marcello Angelini. “We even go a step further: we commit to the first-ever co-production between our two organizations. These times will go down in history, so let’s make sure they do so also for the imagination of people, and for the adaptability and initiative of the creative field.”
When Cong started envisioning the piece for Creations Reimagined, Stoner Winslett, the Artistic Director of Richmond Ballet, asked if Cong could also teach the piece to the dancers at Richmond. Since staging the piece on site in Virginia was not an option, it had to be created remotely, through Zoom. Winslett says, “We are thrilled about this collaboration during which a choreographer dear to both the Tulsa and Richmond audiences and dancers will have an opportunity to create a world premiere for both companies at the same time using new technology.”
Cong works with Tulsa Ballet dancers at the Tulsa Ballet Brookside studios during half of the day, with GoPro cameras set up so that dancers at Richmond Ballet can sit in on rehearsals to learn the choreography through Zoom calls. The technology allows them to actively participate in the learning process while being 1200 miles away in their own studios. Cong then works with the Richmond dancers exclusively for the 2nd half of the day, again via Zoom. “I am thrilled for this opportunity to return to the studio and be creative,” says Cong. “This new process is a great way to inspire, and be inspired by, artists and patrons. I am thankful for the experience, and I hope the audiences enjoy this creation as a community however they share it.”
While the process has not been easy for the dancers, choreographers, or the artistic faculty, it is a challenge that can be overcome with some creativity. Angelini says, “Engineering a way to make a new work happen during a pandemic presents some challenges. Envisioning a way to co-produce a work during a pandemic, a time when travel is restricted and safety concerns are abundant, becomes audacious. And yet, we have engineered a way to make it happen. Welcome to the audacity of the arts!”
Viewers can watch Ma Cong’s World Premiere during Creations Reimagined by becoming a subscriber or purchasing a virtual ticket at www.tulsaballet.org.
Interview opportunities available:
Bethany Kirby | Marketing Manager
Bethanykirby@tulsaballet.org | (918) 392-5949
– End –