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Behind the Curtain from Your Couch

Savannah Kuchar
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Houston Grand Opera

Many arts institutions around Houston, such as Houston Grand Opera, have found ways to provide at-home experiences for arts fans. Pictured: A scene from HGO’s 2017-18 performance of West Side Story. (Photo: Lynn Lane) 

With the average person now spending far more time at home, new forms of entertainment have taken shape to occupy time and minds. Streaming TV shows and putting on movie nights at home have, as a result, become more and more popular. However, there are certain performances such as ballet or stage plays where the experience is not about just the show, but also the atmosphere and community that comes from being there in person. Right now, with stay at home orders and social distancing, re-creations of these entertainment forms are notably more constrained and challenging.

In response, many institutions around Houston have found ways to continue providing content for fans as a way to bring back some sense of togetherness. This new and digital material deviates from the typical, on-stage presentation, by instead offering behind-the-scenes views, performances from home and recollections of past shows for any Houstonian who want to still feel connected to the performing arts during this difficult time. Here is a list of some of the at-home experiences that performing arts institutions in Houston are offering.

The Houston Ballet: Stay Connected at Home
On their website, the Houston Ballet offers multiple video series all with the goal of giving their fans a firsthand look behind the curtain to learn more about the shows and the dancers who perform them. “HB at Home” provides a variety of video blogs from different dancers, where they teach viewers ballet moves, share their workout routines, or simply reveal what they have been up to during these unique times. Director Stanton Welch interviews dancers in the series “The Director’s Chair,” another opportunity for fans to hear firsthand stories from performers. The videos premiere every Monday on the Ballet’s Youtube page.

The Houston Opera: HGO Broadcasts and Facebook Videos
Even though their doors remain closed, The Houston Opera is continuing to deliver beautiful music through a partnership with Houston Public Media. Past operas are broadcasted on HPM’s classical station every Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. They also remain active on social media, consistently putting up daily content on their Facebook page, including clips from past performances, talks from directors, and even a series of videos about “The Real Housewives of Classical Music”.

Alley Theatre: Alley @ Home
Through Alley @ Home, Alley Theatre offers a variety of free material that strays from their usual stage plays, including interviews with playwrights, behind the scenes looks at past shows, and mini performances of poems or plays too short for the regular stage. This new digital content is able to provide a more educational and deeper look into the Theatre’s productions.

The Houston Symphony: Listen at Home
On the Houston Symphony’s website, under the section “Listen at Home,” you can find past concert videos or new performances from musicians at home if you’re craving to hear that orchestra sound again. If you’re interested in learning more about what’s behind the sheet music, check out their video series “Moment of Music,” where the Symphony’s musical ambassador Carlos Andrés Botero offers his insight into various musical trivia. Or for more information on one specific piece, the series “Classical Notes” explores the backstories of famous compositions such as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4” and Béla Bartók’s “Bluebeard’s Castle.”

Houston Chamber Choir: With One Accord
This podcast series by the Houston Chamber features Artistic Director Robert Simpson and other members of the choir, where they share some of their favorite memories from past performances. Find past podcasts on their website and then catch new episodes every Monday and Friday at 12 p.m.

Society for the Performing Arts: Creative Connection
For their new series “Creative Connection” SPA Houston is regularly releasing a variety of new and creative virtual performances, including living room violin concerts, painting videos, and a plethora of dance styles. Pick from any of these videos to enjoy the abundance of Houston talent, and if you have a creative skill you want to share, SPA is still accepting submissions for this series.

River Oaks Chamber Orchestra: Anytime, Anywhere
Find any of your favorite past performances by ROCO in their “Listening Room” as a part of their Anytime, Anywhere program. They are also periodically livestreaming previous concerts on their website.

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