ABC7 talks with Oakland Ballet's Graham Lustig about holiday program, COVID-19 changes

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- On Tuesday, ABC7 sat down with Oakland Ballet artistic director Graham Lustig to discuss the impact of the COVID-pandemic on the performing arts company and their upcoming 2020 holiday program.

Lustig says that while the pandemic certainly derailed the organization's plans for 2020, the art of dance itself had the Oakland Ballet well-equipped to try something new and keep their art alive.

"Well, you know, dancers are trained pivoters," Lustig explains, "This is what we do for a living. We spin on the spot, we've been the discipline for that for years."

As such. Lustig explains that health and creativity have been paramount in the Ballet's effort to transition their program to a fully online format.

RELATED: San Francisco's Alonzo King LINES Ballet continues making moves amid pandemic

"We've tried to make make sure that dancers are safe at home," Lustig says. "But we've also done some dance films with a solo dancer, like 'Luna Mexicana,' a Dia de los Muertos performance with solo artists at home."

Lustig says the Ballet plans to forward that spirit of innovation in their annual holiday Nutcracker program, which will take the form of an online multimedia piece this year.

"We're narrating the story interspersed with sections of film from last year," Lustig says. "We're doing what we can to make sure the arts have a presence in your lives, but also doing something that nurtures our souls as well, which is just trying to be relevant to the community."

RELATED: San Francisco Ballet holds free outdoor Nutcracker performance, plans digital program

The director says the ballerina who played Maria in last year's Nutcracker show, Paunika Jones, will be his virtual co-host during performances.

You can watch the full interview above.

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