ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Coronavirus has forced the Ballet Theatre of Maryland to build an outdoor stage for practicing and possibly even performances in the future as the arts scenes learns how to navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Dancing in living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens wasn’t ideal for the company as they adapted to an online environment following the closure of public buildings and businesses. It was a challenging couple of months.

Art Director Nicole Kelsch started her position when the virus hit. Transitioning into a new position while working from home has been a challenge for Kelsch but was relatively smooth. Kelsch previously performed for the ballet.

“I will miss performing a little, but I had a longer dance career than I expected. I thought I would be done early 20′s but I will be 38 on Thursday. I am settled where I am today and happy,” Kelsch said.

The company has received a $10,000 grant for safety precautions and preparing for classes indoors. The ballet is allowed to practice indoors but with masks on. Kelsch said the thinks staying outside is safer.

“We wanted to try and find a way to provide our students and company dancers an opportunity to be able to dance in person but separated by social distancing,” Kelsch said.

June marked the start of summer classes for young students and practicing outside went well.

Student classes will be held during the week and company classes will be on the weekend. They are sanitizing before and after every class, also taking temperatures.

Air conditioners and fans are pointed at the stage so dancers don’t get too hot as Maryland’s damp summers loom.

“The first class I taught it just brought a sense of zen and all the stress from the rest of my day just went away,” Kelsch said. “It made my heart really happy and to see the students again. It is easier to communicate in person.”

The end of the pandemic doesn’t mean the end of outside dancing. When Kelsch first saw the stage’s construction she thought “It would be a really nice space for a small performance.”

The name for this upcoming season is ‘Season of Hope’. Kelsch came up with this name from thinking about the hope and art that will come out of the pandemic.

“It is tough on everyone but (especially) artists that are used to expressing themselves through movement, suddenly being contained to a small space,” Kelsch said. “It can be really frustrating to the spirit. It is our hope that we can get back to what we love.”

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Capital.