Gone 'Til November? The Pain of Postponement
Few performing artists in Aotearoa have avoided the heartbreak of cancelation or postponement in the COVID era. Ana Gallardo Lobaina is among the many who have seen their emotional and physical investment thwarted by the pandemic.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet Soloist has been waiting to deliver her performance in RNZB's anticipated Venus Rising programme for two years - and along with the rest of the cast and crew, has had the rug pulled out from under her for the fourth time with the latest Omicron setbacks. The show can only operate under Green or Orange in the Traffic Light system. Red means stop.
No longer part of the line up for this month's Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts or next month's Auckland Arts Festival - the trio of ballets has now been scheduled for November in Wellington, December in Auckland and dates for Christchurch to be announced.
Cuban born Gallardo Lobaina explains the emotional journey to The Big Idea.
While we understand that safety is the priority, the situation has been relentlessly disappointing.
The thoughts that keep coming into my head are similar to when you really lose someone or something very special – and that thing disappears over and over again.
When we experienced the first cancellation in 2020, because everything was new and fresh and unknown, we were sort of OK. We all hoped it was just going to be a period of time and then we’d go back and perform.
The second time, you’ve allowed yourself to believe it was going to happen. We’ve done that two further times and every time you invest a little more of yourself, summon a little more courage and devote a little more energy to the show and in the studio.
It’s exhausting. At the same time, you end up with less and less hope, as you’re thinking, “It still might not happen”.
It’s been really hard in that way. The dream died over and over again.
The Firebird. Photo: Ross Brown.
The three works in Venus Rising are wonderful – we all love them and it’s a programme we really, really want to get on stage. And, while the RNZB has seens amazing success with the digital work, I don’t think Venus Rising will be the same on screen. It’s a programme that feeds to some extent off audience feedback.
Once we hit Red Light, Artistic Director Patricia Barker and the RNZB leadership team worked really quickly and came up with the new dates in November and December and I have high hopes we’ll go ahead. We’re all crossing our fingers things will be a bit more normal by then.
Ana Gallardo Lobaina performing as Myrtha in Giselle. Photo: Stephen A'Court.
One extremely positive thing that has come out of this is that I have really felt the push from Patricia and the company to get us on stage. Knowing our leaders were resilient and doing everything to keep us motivated – and bringing that motivation to the studio – has helped us a lot. Knowing the people who manage us have our backs, we have felt very supported.
Also, as a group of dancers and creatives, we’ve been lucky to face this together – we’ve all been in the same boat. Not everyone deals with COVID news the same way - I’m slightly more sensitive so some days have felt like giving up, but when you come to the studio and others give you energy and hope, you feed from that and in a way COVID has brought us even closer together, which is lovely, especially when some of us are so far away from home.
Ana Gallardo Lobaina in rehearals with fellow RNZB dancer Levi Teachout. Photo: Jeremy Brick.
Perhaps, when we finally get Venus Rising on stage the result will be even stronger than what it would have been in 2020.