American Ballet Theater announced on Wednesday that its coming season at the Metropolitan Opera House was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The company estimates that loss of the Met season, along with previously canceled tour performances — in Chicago, Detroit, Durham, N.C., and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates — will cost it $18 million in revenue.
“While the impossibility of proceeding with our season is deeply painful, protecting the health and well being of our A.B.T. artists, crew, musicians, staff and audience members is paramount,” Kara Medoff Barnett, the company’s executive director, said in a statement.
The performances at the Met, which were scheduled to run from May 11 to July 4, are a particularly important part of the troupe’s annual calendar. “We have limited time where we can reach our audiences and fans and donors in New York,” Ms. Medoff Barnett said in a phone interview. “The cancellation of our Met season is, for A.B.T., akin to the cancellation of the Olympics for those athletes.”
When the tours were canceled, the dancers began receiving supplemental unemployment benefits, in accordance with their contract. The company said it also “voluntarily paid additional benefits to assist our dancers and stage managers during this period of unexpected tour cancellations.” The plan is for this arrangement to continue through the scheduled spring season rehearsal period.
After that, “It is our goal to provide continued, even increased, financial support to the dancers for the eight weeks representing the eight canceled New York performance weeks,” Ms. Medoff Barnett said. The level of support that the company can provide, she added, “is very much contingent on the government loans that we’ve applied for through the CARES Act,” or the Corona Virus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Health insurance coverage will continue without interruption. To raise money for its artists, educators and staff, Ballet Theater began a Crisis Relief Fund last month.
Programming for the two-week fall season at the David H. Koch Theater is still being determined but New York audience will likely have to wait until 2021 to see a full production of Alexei Ratmansky’s “Of Love and Rage.” The new evening-length ballet was supposed to receive its New York premiere in June after having its debut at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, Calif., in March. Ms. Medoff Barnett said that the plan was to perform an excerpt from the piece during company’s gala performance in October and present it in full at the Met the following spring.
The cancellation of the season is a particularly heavy blow to the company’s rising stars. “This was also going to be a breakthrough season for many people,” Kevin McKenzie, Ballet Theater’s artistic director, said in an interview. Several soloists, including Aran Bell, Catherine Hurlin, Calvin Royal III and Cassandra Trenary, were set to make important debuts this spring.
During the imposed hiatus, Ballet Theater has turned some of its attention to creating content for its social media channels. On April 11 Devon Teuscher and Cory Stearns, two of the company’s principal dancers, will broadcast a conversation live on Instagram. The couple will discuss their time in quarantine together and Mr. McKenzies’s “Swan Lake,” which they were both slated to perform on April 16 in Detroit.