Carlos Acosta has admitted he is “worried for the future” of his dance company if social distancing rules are not eased by next Spring.
The world-renowned classical dancer revealed his fears for the future of Birmingham Royal Ballet as he brings his latest show to Sadler’s Wells on Thursday.
The one-act ballet, called Lazuli Sky, is the first public socially-distanced performance at the venue since lockdown, and will be playing to a sold-out 410-strong audience, less than a third of the north London theatre’s usual pre-Covid capacity.
Acosta, 47, who describes himself as “an optimist”, said: “We have to make a profit. With social distancing the shows just about cover our costs but for example we would normally do The Nutcracker and we aren’t doing that this year so we lost £1 million from that.
“I hope that after spring it will be easier in terms of social distancing but if not I’m very worried for the future.”
The new show, which he commissioned in response to lockdown, includes dancers wearing huge flowing costumes which prevent anyone coming within two metres of them.
Acosta said: “When we went into lockdown I worried the company didn’t have anything to work towards. You can’t just train for the sake of training.
“It’s also healthy to work with what is going on at the moment so the mind doesn’t linger over the situation and I wanted to leave a record behind that this is how we responded when the pandemic happened.
“The dancers are in a bubble but when we started there was still the two-metre rule so no-one touched each other. But as it changed we have been able to change and it ends with everyone together.
“The costumes are like 2-metre-long wings but they are an amazing shape so visually they are very rich."
The show is named after the gemstone used to create the bright blue paint used by Renaissance artists including Leonardo da Vinci to depict the sky and is inspired by the summer skies during lockdown.
Acosta, who spent almost two decades with the Royal Ballet before becoming Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet in January, originally thought the work, choreographed by Will Tuckett, might have to be performed in different venues and talked to museums, galleries and even a tennis club about staging it.
He said it was fitting the company, which was set up in Sadler’s Wells in 1931 and only started touring when the theatre was bombed during World War II, was coming back to the venue.
Their performances will be followed by an autumn programme for socially distanced audiences leading up to a two week run of The Little Match Girl at Christmas.