Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT) has received three Telly Awards for its Fireside Nutcracker, a virtual adaptation of Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker made available to stream online during December, 2020. The company was awarded a Gold Telly for Branded Content General – Virtual Events & Experiences, and Silver Tellys for Branded Content General-Not-for-profit and Branded Content Craft – Editing.
“Fireside Nutcracker kept the holiday tradition of The Nutcracker alive during theater closures due to the pandemic,” PBT Artistic Director Susan Jaffe said. “We were excited to share the program – which reached nearly 50,000 viewers in over 30 countries – with our audience and we’re honored that it has been recognized by the Tellys.”
PBT began work on Fireside Nutcracker in the summer of 2020, anticipating that the company would not be able to return to the Benedum Center for its annual run of over 20 Nutcracker performances. Alongside a team of producers and videographers from LOOK Creative Guild, PBT artists, crew, staff and 25 PBT School students filmed Fireside Nutcracker at the award-winning Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University and the historic Hartwood Acres Mansion.
To accommodate safety regulations while filming during the COVID pandemic, adjustments were made to choreography to ensure social distancing and masking. Lead couples, like Marie and the Nutcracker, were cast using pairs of cohabitating dancers, to limit close contact between dancers outside of a single household. Many of The Nutcracker’s most iconic scenes feature PBT’s corps de ballet in close formation. To adhere to social distancing protocols, these scenes were filmed with fewer dancers interacting at once and were seamlessly stitched together to recreate classic dances for the audience to experience from a new perspective.
“The reformatting of storytelling, choreography and filming of this ballet was complex, but a wonderful process for everyone,” Jaffe said, “and we all felt good about the work. But, the people who shined the most were our dancers and our children who took part in the filming.”