May 2020 was to have been a special month for the American Ballet Theatre – the time to celebrate its 80th anniversary.
American Ballet Theatre – known as Ballet Theatre from 1939 until 1957 – was founded in 1939 by Lucia Chase and Richard Pleasant and its first performance was on 11 January 1940.
Chase was its director, together with Oliver Smith, from 1945 to 1980. Mikhail Baryshnikov took over until 1989. Smith returned with Jane Hermann from 1990 to 1992, when Kevin McKenzie took over as artistic director, a position her still holds.
ABT will present American Ballet Theatre: Together Tonight, a virtual celebration in support of the ABT Crisis Relief Fund on its YouTube Channel tonight, 12 May 2020, at 7pm EDT (New York). This means it will be available from midnight BST (London) or 1am CEST (Central Europe), but it will continue to be available for 24 hours.
The one-hour, pre-recorded presentation will mark ABT's 80 years through film, music and new choreography “representing the Company's tradition of celebrating the diversity and dynamism of America through the power of world-class dance”.
ABT: Together Tonight will be narrated by ABT dancers and leaders, celebrities, alumni and special guests, will present viewers with rarely-seen glimpses of ABT's 80-year history in footage of past performances. There will be interviews with ABT artists, celebrity greetings, performances by the ABT Orchestra, and a video montage with members of the ABT Studio Company and students of the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.
Tony Bennett will sing “Fly Me to the Moon” to adapted choreography by Jessica Lang (Let Me Sing Forevermore) performed on location in Central Park by ABT Soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell. Oscar nominee and Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo performs “America the Beautiful” against a backdrop of ABT artists and everyday Americans dancing across the nation and the world as they stay at home.
Special guests include Katie Couric, Jennifer Garner, Kelly Ripa, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Julianna Margulies, Margaret Qualley, Chita Rivera, Deborah Roberts, Liev Schreiber, Al Roker, Nate Berkus, Jeremiah Brent, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Julio Bocca, Roberto Bolle, Alessandra Ferri and Carla Fracci.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.