Williamstown ballet group prepares for postponed show

Theatre has waited a year to perform original production

The Williamstown Ballet is getting ready to perform the original production of ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ after COVID-19 caused it to be postponed for a full year.

The Williamstown Ballet Theatre has rescheduled its production of “Down the Rabbit Hole,” after COVID-19 caused the show to be canceled two weeks before its original performance date. 

“We started working on this last January,” said Laurie Sanford, artistic director for the ballet. “We had the idea at the time that we would reschedule it. We were planning on doing it sooner, but then we had to push our other recital back. We didn’t even get to do the recital until September, which is typically in May.”

The ballet theatre is home to over 40 dancers of all ages and levels. In January of 2020, 15 of those dancers geared up for the spring production of “Down the Rabbit Hole.” But two weeks before, COVID caused the studio to shut down.

After months of Zoom ballet classes and workshops, the company was able to reopen in late summer. It had to prepare a reopening plan and submit it to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office before students were allowed to return. Even with the plan, the theatre was still required to hold its  postponed recital outside so parents and family members could watch. 

“We clean everything and wash our hands,” said Sanford. “Everyone has to sign a waiver that says they haven’t been exposed or they haven’t been traveling. We still have some of our dancers working from home. We have limited class sizes.

“Everyone has their own barre cover now … We have a small group of kids and a big facility and great ventilation.” 

With students back in the studio, the theatre is getting ready to perform the original production of “Down the Rabbit Hole.” Performances are scheduled for March 26, 27 and 28 and will take place at the theatre, on Clinton Avenue.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 15 audience members will be allowed in the theatre at one time. Anyone else is able to buy a Zoom code and can stream the live performance from home.

“We are all very grateful,” said Sanford. “This kind of reminds us how at any moment things can change. I think everyone has been really focused because of that.”

The theatre is also beginning work on its annual recital for 2021. The hope is that it can move back to the Grand Theatre on Main Street in Williamstown, where most performances were held pre-COVID.

“We don’t know how it is going to look in terms of how we are going to be performing,” Sanford noted. “Right now, we are booked to do it at the Grand, and with the current capacity, we should be able to do two shows with 80 to 85 audience members.”

Despite new regulations and the uncertainty of performances, the ballet students are happy to be back in the theatre doing what they love.

“I’m just happy we get to be dancing at all,” said Amanda Shapiro, who has the role of Alice in “Down the Rabbit Hole.” “It’s fun to be able to do production stuff. It was upsetting that we had to stop and we knew we would get back to it eventually.

“I think it is nice we are still able to do this.”

To buy tickets to the performance, text or call the studio at (856) 304-4294.