This Summer’s Dance MVP: The Weatherman

NYT Music

Further north, Williamstown Theater Festival in Williamstown, Mass., is also hosting its first fully outdoor season this year, on found stages, including the Clark Art Institute’s reflecting pool, where Grace McLean stars in “Row.” The musical lost nearly 60 percent of outdoor rehearsal time because of the weather, and six of the first seven scheduled performances were canceled. “It’s just been kind of disappointing and frustrating, because we’re not getting to do our job,” she said.

The sky was dreary, gray and damp the day before “Tillers of the Soil” — Weinert’s adaptation of a dance originally choreographed by Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis in 1916 — had its premiere at Jacob’s Garden. The dancers spread straw on the soft, wet ground before the performance, but their feet still grew muddy and soaked as they danced. “We were able to still be in the moment with everything that was happening,” Brandon Washington, a dancer, said. “It ended up being super sunny and beautiful.”

For dancers, weather, especially rain, has meant being ready to be frustrated — or ready for the show to go on in tough circumstances. On July 3 at Little Island, a new park on the Hudson River in Manhattan, Hee Seo, a principal for American Ballet Theater, did not know until showtime whether her “Dying Swan” solo would happen. Even then, the rehearsal and show were both delayed, and when Seo started dancing, she could feel raindrops. “But we didn’t stop,” she said. “I carried on. I finished my piece.”

Artists and audiences have been hungry for performances, even as the cancellations pile up. The Trisha Brown Dance Company canceled performances on June 8 and 9 at Wave Hill in the Bronx because of rain. The company’s director, Carolyn Lucas, said the dancers rehearsed amid the drizzles until they couldn’t. “After this year of Covid, I think everybody is missing dancing and performing so much,” she said. “They were very flexible to sort of do something a bit more extreme just to get the show on the road.”

It’s unlikely there will be another summer with quite this particular mix of circumstances. And at Jacob’s Pillow, the hope is that there won’t need to be another outdoor-only season. But ever adaptable, dancers will continue to make the most of what’s thrown at them. As Washington said of his performance in the garden, “With everything that was happening leading up to the performance, the wet ground was kind of the least of our concerns.”

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