MIAMI CITY BALLET SCHOOL LEAPS INTO ACTION
On Friday, March 13th, leaders of Miami City Ballet made the painful yet necessary decision that the administrative offices and studios – normally awash in sunshine and bristling with the laughter of young children and the distinct patter of pointe shoes – would close until government and health officials declare it safe to return. The health and safety of Miami City Ballet’s dancers, students and staff is priority number one, therefore all classes were immediately suspended, leaving students, parents, and MCB School faculty wondering, what happens next?
What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary, deserving of a standing ovation. Concerned about the wellbeing and the continued education of a student body filled with both international and local students, as well as the potentially crippling financial impact, MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez and Arantxa Ochoa, the school’s artistic director, knew they had to do something and do something fast.
On Sunday, March 15, MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez asked Arantxa if it would be possible to teach classes online. The following day Arantxa began piloting online classes with pre-professional students. By Monday, March 30, 108 interactive classes were made available to students ages three to eighteen in a wide range of studies, including Creative Movement and Pre-Ballet, Ballet Preparatory levels I-III, Student Division levels I-VI, and Pre-Professional levels I and II. Through Arantxa’s steadfast dedication to her students and the uncompromising willingness of MCB School’s teachers and administrative staff to adapt quickly, an entirely new online curriculum was born. Class offerings include ballet technique, pointe, repertoire, choreography, terminology, video studios, contemporary, stretch, Pilates, Spanish dance and cross training.
Arantxa Ochoa says, “Our students mean the world to us and the thought of not being able to connect with them, to not be able to continue teaching them was something I was simply not willing to accept. Thankfully my staff was 100% on board in trying to make these online classes work. After receiving positive feedback from our pre-professional students, and genuinely understanding that our students need us more than ever during this unsettling time in history, we went in with an all or nothing attitude and within one week we were up and running. We even have live music accompaniment. During this period of darkness and anxiety, it’s comforting to know we can still reach and support our students.”
Students and parents are also grateful for the program. One parent said, “We are grateful for your strength as a leader and role model to the dancers of MCB School. You are really keeping the connection and spark alive for these dancers!” And, another adds, “Because of your work and good communications, we are at ease knowing that the remaining school term will be a positive, rewarding and safe experience. Soon we will be able to reflect on everything that has happened and there will be no way to calculate the number of lives your actions have helped.”
A fitting note reminding us that everyone at Miami City Ballet truly believes that ballet has the power to transform lives, no matter what the circumstance. We are here for you, just as you have been here for us. And, we are grateful too.