Choreographer Ryan Heffington, pictured here at the Sweat Spot in September 2019, is hosting dance workouts on Instagram Live. Picture: The Washington Post/Jessica Pons
Choreographer Ryan Heffington, pictured here at the Sweat Spot in September 2019, is hosting dance workouts on Instagram Live. Picture: The Washington Post/Jessica Pons

Find the joy of live performances - free from your couch

By Sarah L. Kaufman Time of article published Apr 27, 2020

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Remember way back when, in those innocent days (or nights) when seeing a live performance could send your spirit swooping and soaring somewhere just outside your body, and you could feel psychically transported onstage with the singers and dancers, vicariously belting your cares away? When you could be swept along in a glorious human tide of noise and rhythm and joy?

The quarantine can't take that away, not entirely. Here are a few outlets I've found for connecting in some limited but energizing way with the joys of organized, musical humanity.

- Visit the Kennedy Center's digital stage.

You can access thousands of music, theater and dance performances free on the performing arts venue's website. Some are brief trailers, others are full-length works. For a few minutes of razzmatazz, check out the montage of scenes from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," including the exhilarating finale. Dance lovers, indulge in Pam Tanowitz's beautiful and mysterious "Gustave Le Gray No. 1," performed by members of Miami City Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, accompanied live by a lush Caroline Shaw piano composition. kennedy-center.org/digitalstage.

- Dance along with Ryan Heffington's Sweatfest on Instagram Live.

Now that you're more or less alone, free from judgment and the snobberati, this is your moment to dance like it's your last night on earth. I mean, who's watching? Exactly no one. If you need a nudge, the deliriously free-spirited Heffington is here to help. Consider him the High Priest of Everyone-Can-Dance-So-What-Are-You-Waiting-For? He leads a pulse-pounding dance workout Tuesday through Thursday at 10 a.m. Pacific time, 1 p.m. Eastern time. (He's self-quarantined outside Los Angeles.) Some 8,000 folks worldwide tune in, including Reese Witherspoon and Pink, in case that matters. It shouldn't. This is purely between you and your inner disco queen. Chances are you're already a Heffington fan; he's choreographed everything from Sia's "Chandelier" video to "The OA," the surreal finale of "Transparent" and a host of wacky perfume ads. instagram.com/ryan.heffington.

- Listen to the "Aria Code" podcast.

Becoming better friends with opera has been on my eternal to-do list, and I've found a way to do it through this podcast. It's a project of the Metropolitan Opera, hosted by singer Rhiannon Giddens. In each episode, Giddens opens up a different aria, inviting singers, writers and other experts to speak about the intricacies of the work and what it's like to perform it, listen to it and weep over it. Rich storytelling dives into the artists' personal lives, revealing how their experiences entwine with the opera roles they take on. You walk away feeling like you've slipped a little jewel of the human experience into your pocket. ariacode.org.

- Watch "The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened."

This fascinating, beautifully made documentary explores the creation of a Broadway flop - the Stephen Sondheim/Harold Prince "Merrily We Roll Along" - and how the ordeal still affects the cast all these years later. If you love Sondheim, if you love theater, if you love anything at all, see this. It's about passion, mistakes, lost innocence and the weird, fateful entangling of art and life. What I'll never forget is the way it captures the nearly unbearable vulnerability of young dreamers. "Merrily" premiered in 1981, cast entirely with actors aged 16 to 25, including Jason Alexander (years before "Seinfeld"). These kids were all ecstatic to be working with their idols, who ruled Broadway at the time. Two weeks later, everyone was out of a job. Horrible, but life went on. This is a good time to be reminded of that: The flow is continuous, and this, too, shall pass. Available on Netflix.

The Washington Post

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