Curtain down

Houston Ballet cancels 2019-2020 season amid coronavirus concerns

Houston Ballet cancels 2019-2020 season amid coronavirus concerns

Principals Karina González and Connor Walsh in Jorma Elo’s ONEendONE.
The curtain is down for Houston Ballet's 2019-2020 season.  Photo by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet

The onset of the COVID-19 in Houston has hit performing arts groups particularly hard. Many are having to suspend performances until later dates, move to an online forum, or, in worst cases, cancel seasons altogether.

The city’s latest cancelation casualty is Houston Ballet, which announced on Monday, April 6, that it will end the remainder of its 2019-2020 due to coronavirus/COVID-19 concerns. The performances affected by the sudden cancellation include Forged in Houston (May 21-31), Romeo & Juliet (June 4-14), and From Houston to the World, which was to be rescheduled later in the season.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we have canceled the rest of the season,” said Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch, in a statement. “We have survived against the odds before, and we will again. We are dedicated to returning stronger than ever and bringing the art of ballet back to the city of Houston and our community. We are with you and cannot wait to see you on the other side of all of this.”

Community performances at Miller Outdoor Theater and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, as well as the much-anticipated tour to Spain this summer have also been canceled, per a statement.

While the full financial impact of the cancelation is still being calculated, the ballet estimates revenue losses between $2.9 and 4.9 million this season. A recent ruling by the ballet’s board of trustees means that its full-time staff and dancers will be paid for the remainder of the season.

In effort to assist the ballet, however, season ticket subscribers and single ticket holders are urged to donate their tickets back to the organization.

“The simple act of not requesting a refund from us at this time would allow us to keep as much as $1.3 million of already earned revenue,” said Houston Ballet director of marketing and public relations Angela Lee, in a statement. “Our subscribers and ticket holders will play a crucial role in how this turns out, and we are forever grateful to our patrons who make this choice.”

Though the ballet won’t appear on an actual stage this year, it has launched HB at Home, a series of short videos aimed to keep fans connected, on its IGTV and Facebook pages. Followers can catch offstage looks into the lives of dancers, as well as free ballet classes tailored to those who are homebound.