Warren Miller Performing Arts Center

Epitome of pulling things together

WMPAC creates show at the last minute

In a surprise cancellation due to the latest Omicron surge, John Zirkle of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center (WMPAC) and artist Quentin Robinson pulled together a show at the final hour—in a move that is becoming strangely familiar in the performance industry—called Movements for Movements.

Zirkle explained that live performances around the country are once again falling victim to cancellations and delays due to COVID-19. A modern dance group called Black Magic decided it was in their best interest to stay home for the Dec. 27-28 show.

“The word is pivot, right? And it is not our first pivot. We feel like we are kind of in a never-ending game here… The word pivot is so tough because you’ve got to move fast and I always think of how people pivot, where it comes from—pivoting as an athletic term. The ability to move quickly is what we are continually learning how to do,” said Zirkle.

Robinson also shifted big pieces of his life over the holidays to land in Big Sky this week for the Movements for Movements show. “Me and my fiancé packed up our house on Thursday from Tucson, Ariz., we drove up to Murietta, Calif., unpacked all our stuff at 8 p.m., hopped in the car and drove up to Vegas the very next morning. [Then we] hopped on a plane and flew over here,” said Robinson.

The WMPAC staff have continued to challenge what it means to run a theatre during the pandemic, let alone in a rural venue with limited resources. “There’s a lot of news and attention in the media right now—in New York specifically—about the role of the understudy and the role of the swing. Like what happens when people get sick or need to leave for one reason or another. It’s really great that there is a lot of attention going into really the heroes that keep shows rolling,” explained Zirkle.

“And I’ve just been thinking over the last two days, like, what do you do in Montana? We don’t have understudies, you know? We don’t have swings. This is the situation. It is already a miracle to be able to put shows on in our rural area. But what I’ve been thinking about… is we do have neighbors who love us, and people who are willing to step up in the last few days, jump in an F150 and drive down four hours in a blizzard and work until after midnight to make a show happen,” said Zirkle.

WMPAC will also enact a new policy for upcoming shows in 2022 regarding COVID-19. Audience members need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours or show proof of vaccine. “This is the best practice around the country right now,” said Zirkle. WMPAC decided on this either-or policy in the fall. “This is a way to continue to live with the virus,” said Zirkle.

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