Furloughed artists of the Met Opera collaborate to produce outdoor concert

Dancers of the Met. Photo by Jon Taylor.
Dancers of the Met. Photo by Jon Taylor.

Dancers of the Met, an independent collective of dancers who have performed with the Metropolitan Opera throughout the seasons, is joining with furloughed members of the Met Orchestra and Met Chorus Artists to produce an outdoor event. 

Performances will take place on 75th Street between Broadway and West End, on May 16, from 11am-7pm. It will include a morning of short demonstrations of dance and opera music for the public. The afternoon performances by Dancers of the Met will feature a collaboration with members of the Met Chorus Artists and the Met Orchestra. The all-day exhibition is part of New York City’s Open Culture, a new citywide program that brings arts and culture to the five boroughs’ streets. This will be a rare opportunity to see artists from the Met up close while learning about the creative and collaborative process of their craft.

The program will be emceed by well-known author, lecturer and commentator William Berger, who is heard on Met Opera Radio’s Sirius/XM broadcasts and the podcast series, In Focus.

Choreography will be led by Met dancers and choreographers, including Juilliard graduates Michelle Vargo and Belinda McGuire. Vargo, a 20-year Met veteran, who has danced in over 40 productions will choreograph a new piece to “Lascia Ch’io Pianga”by Handel. Soprano Anne Marie Nonnemacher, a Met Opera Chorus member, is the featured soloist, accompanied live by members of the Met Orchestra: Violinists Sarah Vonsatteland Laura McGinnis, Violist Mary Hammann and Cellist David Heiss. 

McGuirewho’s performed with the Limón Dance Company and has taught at Harvard, Marymount Manhattan College and Canada’s National Ballet School, will be presenting selections from Verdi’s LaTraviata. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts alumnus Jacoby Pruitt, whose past credits include Ailey II, Company XIV and who is featured in the upcoming film In The Heights, will also be premiering new work to “Glück, das mir verblieb” from Die Tote Stadt by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. 

Dancers of the Met's outdoor performance.

Danielle Russo, whose choreography has been presented nationally at the American Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow and The Yard, and whose work concentrates on choreography for unconventional formats and environments, will adapt a site-specific work based on a previous piece by Russo on Dancers of The Met, which was set to a recording of “Va, pensiero” from Verdi’s Nabbucco, performed by member of the Met Orchestra and Met Chorus Artists, conducted by Met Music Director Yannick Nezet-Séguin. 

Artists will follow stringent COVID-19 safety protocol and will all be masked and distanced. Audiences will also be encouraged to follow these guidelines while viewing the event. 

The May 16 presentation will be the second collaboration by the furloughed Met Artists. It follows a sold-out presentation performed back in early March, which included a week-long creative residency at the women-led downtown organization Arts on Site. It was produced as a film version and was captured by New York Times-featured dance videographer Angelo Vasta. As part of its mission, Dancers of the Met is looking to expand the visibility of dance and dance within opera, and are continuing to present new work and share the opera art form beyond the boundaries of Lincoln Center. Their collaboration with members of the Metropolitan Chorus Artists and Met Orchestra brings dance, music, and opera back to New York City’s diverse and vibrant community.

Met dancers Cesar Abreu, Natalia Alonso, Réka Echerer and Maria Pheganare leading the production effort, along with a team of fellow Met dancers. They are developing presentations for a variety of outdoor events, exploring and producing concerts in non-traditional spaces beyond the walls of the opera house. They plan to create opportunities that connect and support members of The Metropolitan Opera community in equitable ways and celebrate their diverse artistic backgrounds.

The event is supported in part by DRA: Dancers Responding to AIDS.

For more, along with ticket and venue information, visit www.dancersofthemet.com.

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