The arts community has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic. Like other performing groups, ballet companies depend on ticket sales to stay in operation, but selling tickets is virtually impossible when all venues are closed for the foreseeable future. American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland and her former colleague, Joseph Phillips, launched Swans for Relief, a special video performance featuring dancers from ballet companies around the world.

Copeland and Phillips organized the event with help from the Entertainment Industry Foundation and seed funding provided by K Period Media. It is their hope that they will be able to raise money to assist ballet dancers struggling to pay rent and other living expenses while they are without a paycheck. 

The 32 ballerinas featured in this special video performance represent ballet companies from around the world, including the US, Australia, the UK, South Africa, Norway, Russia, Cuba, France, the Philippines, Canada, Austria, Mexico, Denmark, and China.   

A message from Copeland and Phillips reads,  “We know that everyone’s circumstances are different, especially in these precarious times, but we would be so grateful to those who are able to donate, no matter the amount. If you are not able to donate, please consider sharing the link to this fundraiser so that it might reach more people who are able to give and share in turn. The arts are vital in bringing people together and helping us process the human condition, and in these very unusual times it is dancers who can truly use the support.”

While the video performance is free to watch, the campaign asks that supporters donate whatever they can on Swans for Relief’s GoFundMe page. Copeland and Phillips hope to raise $500,000, and those proceeds will be distributed to the relief funds of the participating dancers’ companies.

As the organizers explained on the GoFundMe page, “Art brings people together to provide a beautiful escape, and ballet in particular is a very unifying experience both on and off the stage, filled with history and imagination.” 

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo:  Nihal Demirci via Unsplash

 

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