Classes and Rehearsals in Talliin

Estonian National Ballet artistic director Linnar Looris shares the optimistic news that the company will open the new season with Anna Karenina in September

We started back with classes on 18th May and we had to spread into four smaller groups. For the first two weeks we just did ballet classes with two classes for women and two classes for men basically. And then from the start of this June we added some rehearsals, but keeping two metres apart. All over the country, cases of Covid have gone down and more and more movie theatres, health clubs and gyms have opened up. Everyone is speculating about a second wave and possibly a third one, but so far it’s been OK, and the dancers over these past few weeks have been fine too. We have some dancers who are abroad and stuck there, but they do some online classes. Yannick Boquin has done online ballet classes and so I’ve made sure that any dancers stuck abroad get a chance to access those. I’ve also just tried to care for people as much as possible. Even the orchestra and the singers have managed to work in small groups and we are trying to slowly and safely expand bit by bit. If everything goes to plan, we are going to continue with rehearsals until the end of the season.

We are scheduled to start back with the new season on 4th August, and hopefully our first show will be on 1st September. For certain there are no guarantees that people will come to the theatre, but if everything is going OK in the country then there will be an audience on 1st September. People have already bought tickets and seven or eight shows have been sold out.

So there is at least on paper interest in people wanting to come. I think if they were fully scared they wouldn't even buy tickets. So we’re hoping that the whole country is back to normal by September. I know that some of the neighbouring countries have opened their borders for tourism as well, although the social distancing still remains in place; there’s no other strong restrictions at the moment. So things are now more positive and we can at least work and get everyone back into shape and back in to a routine at the opera house.

Theatres all over Estonia are trying to find out from the government how long the social distancing rule will stay in place. I believe that they have already said that events of up to 500 people will be allowed but since our theatre seats 820 or something like that, we would need for that social distancing rule to be completely lifted because we wouldn’t be able to operate on 50% capacity. We are hoping to get clarity over the summer and way before 1st September obviously.

We already have the programme. The season opener is Anna Karenina – with shows on 1st, 3rd and 5th – and so it’s going to be a busy beginning to the season. Then, for our Tchaikovsky programme, which has Serenade, the stager is supposed to come in October, so hopefully by then the restriction with people coming from the US will have been lifted.