Back to the Studios

Back to the Studios

Dancers Are Back!

San Francisco Ballet’s studios, which had been empty and silent since shelter in place orders in March, are again filled with dance and music.


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What a joy!!!!! After 5 MONTHS of lockdown and loosing 2020 season, we finally had our first company class! I want to thank @sfballet for working very hard to get dancers back in to the studio. I feel very lucky to be in a pod with amazing artists here! 今日長い長い5ヶ月間ぶりにまだ実験的ではありますが6人づつのカンパニークラスが始まりました!シーズンもなくなり誰にも会えない辛い5ヶ月間でしたが少しずつ光りが見えてきた🌟 #backinthestudio #sfb #sanfranciscoballet #shelterinplace #ballet #ballerina #ballerinalife #happy #happiness #dance #art #幸せ #バレエ #バレリーナ #rehearsal #work #season #covid_19 #shelterinnplacelife #サンフランシスコ #屋内避難生活 #class #socialdistance

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For months, SF Ballet dancers had been training at home—using the back of a chair as a barre or a kitchen as a makeshift studio to maintain the technique they have trained years to attain. Last week, they were able to return to SF Ballet’s studios for the first time to take optional company classes. Usually held in a large studio with the Company’s 75 dancers, company class looked quite a bit different with social distancing, and yet dancers were thrilled to be back.

This return to the studios is the result of months of research, planning, and coordination. Company leadership, company physicians, and the facilities and wellness teams established rigorous protocols in accordance with health directives from the San Francisco Department of Public Health and recommendations by the CDC and other government agencies. “When SF Ballet was granted the ability to begin socially distanced company class, dancers returned to the studios in groups of six,” explains Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale. “The SF Department of Public Health also requires interval testing and distancing of 12 feet between dancers.”


To conform to local and state guidelines, dancers in small cohorts are spread out among studios throughout the building, and classes are held in two distinct time slots. Screens in each studio simulcast the instructor. Because each studio is a discreet unit with its own air-handler, the cohorts in each studio are truly physically isolated from one another.

There is a rigorous protocol for everyone entering the SF Ballet building, which includes (but is not limited to):

    • A negative COVID-19 test result prior to the first building entry, followed by weekly testing
    • A temperature check and health screening given at the door
    • Dancers and staff wearing masks at all times (even while dancing!)
    • Social distancing (six feet at all times, 12 feet during class) being maintained at all times
    • Hand washing immediately after entering the building
    • Dancers interacting only with their cohort
    • Dancers proceeding directly to class and departing immediately afterward, via a different route through the building (dressing rooms are closed)
    • All facilities being thoroughly cleaned between classes

At the current moment, dancers are only allowed to take class. Repertory rehearsals aren’t able to be held yet. San Francisco is still under a shelter in place order and the city remains on the state watch list. “Although we were hopeful to begin rehearsing, the San Francisco public health orders and the spike in the number of cases in the county has delayed moving further along the re-opening guidelines,” explains Tweeddale. Dancers returning to class is a joyous and important first step for SF Ballet, and work continues behind the scenes, laying the groundwork for a future safe return to rehearsal and performance. We will continue sharing glimpses of that work in the coming weeks and months.

Header Image: Thumbnails from Sasha De Sola and Ellen Rose Hummel’s Instagrams