With a performance slated to open just two days prior to this year's winter solstice, the dancers of Ketchikan Theatre Ballet are ready to take the stage and celebrate the year ahead.
"Reflections of the Winter Sun" will debut as a hybrid-model performance — set to be streamed virtually, with a possibility of in-person seating — on Dec. 19 and 20, focusing on the theme of the solstice and a hopeful new year.
Jesse Campbell, KTB's guest artistic director who worked on the upcoming performance with the dancers, said "closing out 2020 with a sense of optimism is what the goal is here."
Campbell has been in Ketchikan since October. During that time, he has been working with KTB dancers as a guest director and studio resident.
The possibility of spending time in Ketchikan to work with KTB had been in discussion for a long time, Campbell recalled.
The idea had been broached when Jess Bertos — with whom Campbell had attended school at the University of Arizona — originally moved to Ketchikan.
Throughout the years, there had been a lot of discussion about the possibility of a dance instructor residency at KTB.
Due to the pandemic, the opportunity for a residency seemed unlikely this year, but a mix of fortunate developments made it work, Campbell said.
Ketchikan Theatre Ballet has been holding practices with mitigation measures — such as mask-wearing, reduced capacity and increased cleaning — but hasn't debuted a new performance since the start of the pandemic this spring.
"I'm really looking forward to the hope and optimism that they bring into the studio," Campbell said of the dancers.
The 30 dancers involved in the production have been rehearsing for "Reflections of the Winter Sun" since early November.
"It's a very exciting mix of pieces, I think," Campbell said.
"We have our trifecta of ballet, tap and jazz," Campbell said of the show. "And those choreographers are moving freely in those styles, so we'll have pieces that look more balletic or pieces that look particularly jazzy, but there's a lot of contemporary influence in it, as well."
KTB Executive Director Elizabeth Schultz told the Daily News during a separate interview that the performance doesn't take the place of the annual Nutcracker production, which will not occur this holiday season.
"I don't think (KTB) wanted to do anything trying to kind of replicate it or kind of do something similar to it," Schultz commented. "And (Jesse Campbell) came up with the beautiful concept of everything revolving around the solstice, when the light starts coming back."
For Schultz, the show is a chance to "bring light and hope back, in a metaphorical sense."
Schultz also said that the young dancers benefit from having a performance goal on the horizon.
"It's really important for the dancers to have something to work for, and I think that they enjoy having a project, having a goal, having that ability to perform even if they can't have in-person performance," she said.
Further details about how the performance will be streamed — and the possibility of limited in-person seating – are yet to be announced by KTB.
Campbell said that the studio was "cooperating with (First City Players) and using some of their standards for socially distant performances."
The delivery of the performance will rely on the community's risk level at the time of the performance.
"If we're at a safe level, there will be an in-person performance where we'll have people correctly distanced apart," Schultz noted.