Austin’s performing arts companies — more than 100 sizable groups persevere out there — continue to respond to the coronavirus crisis with an ingenious array of virtual shows, classes, talks and special events.
Previously, over the course of several weeks, I explored the digital collections of 30 area museums, galleries, archives and cultural centers, a fine way to wile away the hours.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll focus on digital stand-outs among the area’s performing arts offerings. I’ll also add a few choice items from beyond Central Texas.
• On May 31, the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards won’t take place at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, but rather right on your own screens.
This award show is something to be seen in person — dozens of fully staged musical numbers from high school performers around the region along with tributes, acceptance speeches and the deafening cheers from family, friends and admirers.
Expect details soon for the May 31 event streamed on the Long Center’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, the creative team, led by Ginger Morris, put together a "Long Story Short" video and uploaded it to YouTube.
• "Live from Indy Terrace," the digital treat from Austin Opera that goes live at 3 p.m. each Friday on YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo, has evolved since shelter-in-place directives made it required viewing for those needing an opera fix.
The first four episodes, hosted by General Director Annie Burridge, featured guests singing from the troupe’s rehearsal hall in North Austin. We reveled in the glories of Elena Villalón, Mela Dailey, Claudia Chapa and Will Liverman.
Beginning with Episode 4, the videos mix past operatic performances with artist chats. Polymath Graham Reynolds kicked things off with a tech-savvy walk through his groundbreaking "Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance." In later episodes, various artists talked about their favorite moments from past taped performances, which are included in the videos.
Episode 8 featured guest conductor Timothy Myers, who chatted about some of his previously recorded efforts. All eight episodes can been seen for free via Vimeo on the "Inside Indy Terrace" page at austinopera.org.
• The 2019-2020 season is over for Texas Performing Arts, which operates several venues on the University of Texas campus. Yet since the company presents so many touring artists — along with campus standouts — it has access to some expertly produced behind-the-scenes videos related to upcoming and past shows.
For instance, its "TPA Backstage Pass" page at texasperformingarts.org includes this well-worded intro to a lot of videos: "During this extended intermission on our stages, we invite you backstage for a look at what goes on behind the scenes and to meet the staff and students who bring you the performances you love. So, until we can be together in the theater again, put on your backstage pass and enjoy this behind-the-scenes journey."
Three recent additions include an intro to the look and feel of the Tony Award-winning musical "Hadestown" by director Rachel Chavkin and scenic designer Rachel Hauch, and a cheeky video, "Five Secrets about ’Mean Girls,’" with actor Kate Rockell, along with a tribute to front-line workers from the cast members of "Wicked."
• Some danced in studios. Others outdoors. Still others from home.
Thirty-two ballerinas from 22 ballet companies perform in the highly polished Swans for Relief video that has people talking. Organized by American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland along with Joseph Phillips, the video seamlessly blends together dancers en pointe from 14 countries to the accompaniment of cellist Wade Davis playing "Le Cygne."
There’s no charge to watch it. At the same time, as Copeland and Phillips explain on their GoFundMe page, they want to raise $500,000 help cover the basic expenses of out-of-work dancers. Search for "Swans for Relief" online and the video will come up.
Why no Ballet Austin swans? The 32 dancers almost all represent much larger and more established troupes.