The Alison Cook Beatty Dance Company was forced to close its studio on the Upper East Side during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving dancers with nowhere to practice or rehearse.
One day the owner, Allison Cook-Beaty, had an idea.
“I saw these empty baseball fields, and I used to play softball, so I think I was drawn to them,” she said.
Not to play baseball, but to teach dance. So she choreographed a ballet on the diamond.
“These dancers are working hard out there on the field under the sun and dirt is flying in their face; they have a mask on, but these guys, they look gorgeous,” Cook-Beaty said.
Visitors to the park often stop to watch the lovely ballet performance.
“I saw these ballet dancers leaping through the air, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Lisa Fendell said.
Now Fendell makes it a point to catch the dancers during their twice-weekly rehearsals in Central Park.
“People need art and culture, and if we can bring that to them on a baseball field in Central Park because the studios aren’t open and the theaters can’t open yet safely, why not,” Cook-Beaty said.
Cook-Beaty ensures social distancing and insists that all dancers wear masks while at practice.
“I find myself saying instead of going stage right, go to first base,” Cook-Beaty joked.
Cook-Beaty has never called her dancers a company or a troupe. Instead, she calls them a team, and she is very much their coach.
Being able to teach her dancers at a place during the shutdown has given her team a chance to soar when life is otherwise on lockdown.
Fiona Oba, a dancer, says, “Allison is the type to find creative ways to keep going no matter what. Just the idea we could meet and continue creating work was amazing.”
“It gives you a very good feeling inside your heart when you walk off that baseball field, and you think wow, not only did we do really good work today, but I feel better I feel happier,” Cook-Beaty said.
Cook-Beaty thinks that’s a grand slam.
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