Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent to talk career, coronavirus recovery for Dance Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations

Sasha Janes, Chautauqua Dance’s Director of Contemporary Studies, was excited to host the Washington Ballet at the Institution this summer. And although Chautauquans won’t see the company grace the Amphitheater stage just yet, Janes is hoping to keep that excitement alive.

Janes will appear in conversation with Julie Kent, the Washington Ballet’s artistic director, for this week’s Cocktails Concerts and Conversations with Chautauqua Dance. The event will air at 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, July 14, on the Virtual Porch.


“I think it’s sort of a way to keep this momentum going during this crazy time, and to just show the Chautauqua audience what they can expect when the company does (eventually) make it there,” he said. “It’s a rain check, more or less.”

Janes and Kent will discuss her celebrated career, first as the prima ballerina and longest-serving member of the American Ballet Theatre, and now as an artistic director for a major ballet company. They will screen clips of her performances along the way, and end with an audience Q-and-A.

“We’re going to go back in time and focus a little bit on this unbelievable career she has,” Janes said. “And then we’re going to talk about her transition from that career to being an artistic director. I think it should be an interesting conversation. I’m looking forward to it.”

This will be Kent’s first public appearance after revealing through an Instagram post on July 11 that she is currently recovering from COVID-19.

“I have joined hundreds of thousands of people around the world that took every precaution, and still contacted this virus,” she wrote. “No matter how careful we are, this can happen to anyone.” 

According to Kent, she is “recovering well.”

Kent is serving as a Visiting Artistic Director for Chautauqua Dance’s four-week intensive Chautauqua Online School of Dance, running from July 13 to Aug. 7. On Thursday, July 16, she will teach classes for the Apprentice, Festival and Workshop dancers and hold an hour-long Q-and-A session for the students.

For this week’s Cocktails, Concerts and Conversations, Janes plans to continue his discussion of how dancers and ballet companies across the country are dealing with the COVID-19 shutdown.

Many companies have set up fundraisers to offset the losses they are currently facing by not being able to perform. The Washington Ballet announced their Stronger Than Ever Campaign in late March.

“Ballet companies are being hit pretty hard by this,” Janes said. “That will be a topic of conversation, how are they surviving?”

Tags : American Ballet Theatrechautauqua danceCocktails Concerts and ConversationsJulie KentSasha JanesWashington Ballet

The author Eleanor Bishop

Eleanor Bishop is a Cincinnati native and rising senior studying journalism at Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. She is excited to (virtually) return to the Daily for her second year, where she is covering visual arts, opera and dance. When she’s not writing, Eleanor enjoys comedy, pop music and staring wistfully out windows, thinking about how she should probably be writing.