For the BalletX and Beyond pivot to film, cinematographers hid social distancing with their camera work, and only the dancers who already lived together could actually touch. I've liked their work as individual performers for a while now, but Andrea Yorita and Zachary Kapeluck have become the go-to pair for duets. Kapeluck brings gravitas to roles like the ill-fated pilot in Neenan’s Sunset o639 Hours and Yorita was heartrending as the widow in his The Last Glass. I had the chance to find out how they fared during the pandemic and what it’s like to do a full evening in front of a live audience once again.
Return to the stage
The studio went into lockdown while they were preparing new pieces by choreographers Caili Quan, Penny Saunders, and Rena Butler for the Spring 2020 series, but they kept working. They cleared out some of the furniture at home for rehearsals, though it wasn’t easy sharing the floor. “I’m a big guy,” Kapeluck pointed out, “I take up a lot of space.” Yorita said they missed connecting with their coworkers, but speaking of Kapeluck, “We live together, so I could connect with him. People living alone, I can’t imagine how they felt.” They both agree that the time in lockdown has brought them even closer. (They're now engaged!)
For Yorita and Kapeluck those first pieces on film were the most memorable. They were a bit more do-it-yourself back then, banding together to figure out ways to make things work. The process grew more streamlined, but Kapeluck said it was very much pull yourself up by your bootstraps and figure it out. But it worked. “Most people thought that we had been rehearsing together as a group,” he said. “When we would tell them, ‘No, this was all created in our apartments separately, via Zoom,’ they were astounded.”
The art of reconnecting
The films kept us all connected through our computers, but dancers and their audiences are glad to be returning to full evenings of live performances. Pandemic rules say we have to be outdoors, though, which can be unpredictable. Yorita said that during a performance at Glen Foerd in May, “We had that crazy storm that passed through. It was exciting. It adds this other quality that you just respond to—it’s like another member of the company.”
On June 24, BalletX comes to the Mann Music Center with new pieces by Hope Boykin, Neenan, and Dwight Rhoden. Kapeluck says he loves returning to the full evening shows. “It’s nice to feel like we’re really exerting ourselves and spending all of our energy to get through a piece.”
Yorita agreed. “It’s really fun to go on that journey again. There is time for you to really have an arc for yourself, for your character, for your relationships within the piece, and I think that’s kind of what I miss with some of the shorter pieces—there’s not enough time to create that arc and that journey.”
The Vail Festival in Colorado is up next, and both dancers say they are looking forward to the challenge of dancing at altitude. “When you’re dancing and you get really tired, things come out because you have to rely on just what’s inside, and what comes naturally to your body,” Yorita said. Those are moments we love to see.
What, When, Where, and Accessibility:
BalletX Summer Series runs June 24 through June 26, 2021, at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Avenue. Tickets are available online.
The Mann is an outdoor venue. Picnicking is allowed and it no longer requires masks. Tickets are electronic on your mobile phone or device.
Image Description: Kapeluck and Yorita are dressed in mostly black, the background completely dim. They are posed, likely mid-dance, with Yorita standing in front of Kapeluck.