Like countless other arts organizations, ballet companies depend on ticket sales to stay in operation, but selling tickets is impossible when performance venues are closed. The coronavirus outbreak has shut down theaters, museums, galleries, studios, and opera houses, and as a result, culture is suffering just as much as the economy. Of course, artists and performers who don’t know when they’ll see another paycheck are also taking a major hit. That’s why American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland and her former colleague, Joseph Phillips, decided to launch Swans for Relief, a special video performance featuring dancers from ballet companies around the world. Misty Copeland and Ballerinas From Around the World Danced Together, and It’s Mesmerizing.
With help from the Entertainment Industry Foundation and seed funding provided by K Period Media, Copeland and Phillips were able to organize the virtual event with the goal of raising money for ballet dancers struggling with rent and other living expenses. The video performance features 32 ballerinas representing 22 ballet companies from 14 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia, South Africa, Norway, Russia, Cuba, France, the Philippines, Canada, Austria, Mexico, Denmark, and China. Though scattered throughout the world, the 32 dancers all perform a variation from Le Cygne (The Swan), accompanied by cellist Wade Davis, and the result is pretty magical.
While the video performance is free to watch, the campaign asks that supporters donate whatever they can on Swans for Relief’s GoFundMe page. Copeland and Phillips hope to raise $500,000, and those proceeds will be distributed to the relief funds of the participating dancers’ companies.
As the organizers explained on the GoFundMe page, “Art brings people together to provide a beautiful escape, and ballet in particular is a very unifying experience both on and off the stage, filled with history and imagination.” This video certainly proves how powerful it is when performers with a shared cause come together.