Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

Charleston Ballet didn’t see itself as going it alone, just going forward as much as it can, as long as it can.

The ballet recently announced plans for its 2020-2021 season, “Stand Up and Dance,” which includes “Bit(e)s and Pieces” Oct. 16 and 17 and “The Nutcracker,” Dec. 11 and 12.

Both shows will be at the Municipal Auditorium.

“I’m going to keep going until it turns out that I can’t,” said Kim Pauley, the ballet’s artistic director.

Charleston Ballet will again be teaming up with Columbia Classical Ballet from South Carolina but will be presenting “The Nutcracker” without the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, which canceled the first half of its season last week due to concerns about COVID-19.

The ballet will use recorded music, which isn’t unusual for most shows, and Pauley said the auditorium offers plenty of space for patrons to spread out and maintain proper social distancing.

“Normally, our audience would be lost in the Municipal, but this way, it works,” she said.

Depending on how the next few months go, there may be other adjustments.

“The Nutcracker” is a huge production featuring dozens of dancers, but Pauley said she can scale back, if it comes to it.

“All the kids are cast in something in the first act and then in something for the second act,” she said.

The shorter version eliminates most of the first act, including the opening party scene and the epic battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

“Everyone would still get to do something, except for the adults,” Pauley said.

Adults play the Mouse King, his minions and some of the party guests.

No decisions have been made yet. Pauley was taking a wait-and-see approach, hoping for the best and managing risk as best she could.

When ballet classes resumed a couple of months ago, they focused on hygiene, maintaining social distancing as best they could while dancing and embraced wearing masks.

The dancers don’t like it, Pauley said.

“It’s hard, but we do it,” she added. “Children are very adaptable.”

Pauley said they wash hands, clean everything and if someone on staff leaves town, they get a COVID test before returning to work.

Pauley had recently returned from Columbia, South Carolina, where she’d been working with dancers from Columbia Classical Ballet on “Dracula,” which is part of “Bit(e)s and Pieces” in October.

“It’s a new ballet and going there was just the easiest way to do it,” Pauley said.

Pauley felt fine and was waiting on the results, which she hoped would turn up soon.

Trying to keep some forward momentum just made sense for Charleston Ballet.

“I run as tight a ship as I can,” she said. “We’re following protocols and the dancers are just happy to work in the studio and keep going.”

The worst case scenario, Pauley thought, would be if the shows were canceled. That would be disappointing, but at least the dancers would get to continue to improve their technique and continue to stay in shape.

“And maybe we’d do it next year,” she said.

Charleston Ballet would also have “Gravity” to look forward to. The show is tentatively scheduled for March 2021, though date, time and location haven’t been determined.

Pauley was hopeful about the upcoming months. Things could improve, and if they did, maybe Charleston Ballet could shift its production to the Charleston Coliseum.

“Maybe the city and the coliseum would allow me to be a kind of guinea pig,” she said.

Notes: “Bit(e)s and Pieces” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17. “The Nutcracker” 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 2 p.m. Dec. 12. All shows are at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium. Tickets on sale soon. For more details visit thecharlestonballet.com.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5195 or follow @lostHwys on Twitter. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap/ and read his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth.