We will return to what we all love - Maggie Whyte
In the third blog written by our dancers on the Corona crisis, Maggie Whyte tells us how she felt about the cancelled season, what she is missing and how she adapted her life to the new situation. Since mid-March performances at the Bayerisches Staatsballett have been cancelled, rehearsals are not taking place and ballet class moved to Zoom.
The hush of the audience that leads to the warmth of the stage lights and the adrenaline rush you feel from performing is like nothing else in this world for a ballerina. What would you do if the light were turned off on a job you’ve been striving for since the age of two? That is what thousands of dancers worldwide were faced with beginning in March 2020. I was heartbroken when performances, rehearsals, and eventually classes in the studios were cancelled. Having only joined the Bayerisches Staatsballett in September, I never would have thought my first season in a European company would come to a halt six months in. So, now we have all been challenged to adapt to this ever-so-unpredictable thing called “life,” over which we have very little control. We can, however, control what we do with all this new time we are unanimously experiencing. Whether we are ballet fanatics, essential workers, at home chefs, book nerds, parents, students, and everything in between, we are all in this together and will be together in due time. And, we will return to what we all love.
Personally, I am a big fan of ballet class. I love the daily routine of arriving at the theater to change clothes, do my hair, warm up, and take class. Morning training is a time to check-in with my body, refine my technique, and prepare for rehearsals throughout the day. I have always found great joy in the repetition of training. That time in the studio is often where I feel most comfortable. Taking class in the studio might be one of my favorite things about ballet. I’ve always felt at home at a barre in the studio... But for now, I am getting used to my actual home be where I am taking barre at my windowsill.
So instead of the “good mornings” in the dressing rooms, waves from across the studio, and sharing our usual barres at the theatre, we take class virtually. The company gives us training with accompaniment. This keeps us in shape, as best as possible, while allowing comradery within the company. However, taking class through my laptop isn’t quite the same, because I miss my colleagues and the vast space of the studio. I am so grateful to have a section of floor from the theater and the opportunity for all of us to train together again! Along with classes from our ballet masters, I have been able to surprise former classmates/colleagues in virtual classes offered online, which is amazing! One upside to this time is the opportunity to be connected with the worldwide dance community.
Normally, I use the gorgeous in-house Pilates studio, guided by Ruben Wiethüchter, our resident Pilates instructor. He offers private lessons and group circuit training for all the company dancers - and he now offers online classes! Along with the in-house Pilates, BSB has a partnership with a former company dancer, Anna Villadolid-Mayr. Thankfully, as the restrictions in Munich have been relaxed, she has begun offering private sessions again (within proper health regulations). Training with Anna again, brings a little bit of normality to these unfathomable times.
A big part of my life is reading; and I mean, an astronomically big part. To say I am an avid reader is putting it lightly. I am the kind of person that plans their day around reading and always carries a bag merely to have a book… or two… From the moment I started reading as a young girl, I have had my nose in a book. With all this time, one might think I have read an entire library, but it began quite the contrary. I had a hard time sitting down to read at the beginning of the quarantine, because the anxiety of the unknown completely occupied my mind. At first, I thought I was crazy, but after talking to a couple of my bookworm colleagues, they were also having a hard time reading. That helped me realize that we are all feeling the effects. I am happy to report that I am back to my reading filled days. I like to spend the sunny Munich afternoons taking a walk or bike ride along the Isar searching for the best spots to read.
Cooking is also important to me. We all have to eat, so why not make it delicious and nutritious? I grew up sitting on the counter pretending to be my dad’s sous-chef and he taught me my way around the kitchen. I have fun trying new recipes and sharing them with my dad. I always send pictures to my parents of my newest creation, which makes my mum jealous. I also enjoy baking goodies to share with friends. I’ve made a few sweet treats during quarantine, but mostly stick to my normal bread baking (don’t even get me started on the struggle to find yeast). I love having this time to spend cooking and baking in my beloved apron.
Calling my family is pretty much the best part of the day. We are incredibly close, and their lifelong support is even more important now. We schedule video calls at least three times a week with my two brothers and parents, during which we play games, watch movies, and engage in our normal Whyte family antics. With the five of us living in three different time zones, we make sure to set aside time to get together in the best way we can. I come from a really big extended family that is remarkably close, so every few weeks we have a big video call with as many family members as are able to join, which is so heartwarming. The ability to call anyone worldwide has been such a blessing when you live far from your family, friends, and the place you call home.
During eight weeks of isolation, I have gone through phases of immeasurable amounts of energy, lazy days watching movies, extreme or a complete lack of motivation, and everything so many others are probably feeling. It was important for me to make a general schedule - a morning workout and class; my University studies; a walk or bike ride in the afternoon; reading, cooking, calling my family and friends; and calming down before sleeping which might include meditation, writing, TV, or reading. And I give myself the benefit of the doubt that if I really don’t want to do something, I don’t; now is the time to listen to what your mind and body needs.
These are not easy times on anyone. We are carrying an unparalleled burden through our quarantine existence. The best we can all do is try to stay well by delving into our training, work, studies, new routines, projects, and by enjoying the beautiful weather, while following the health restrictions to keep us all safe. We will get through this. And when the hush of applause returns, it will celebrate all the obstacles we have overcome to be in the theatre together again.
I wish you all the best and look forward to the day we can perform for you, Maggie Whyte
Margaret Whyte was born and raised in Helena, Montana. She was trained at a tiny ballet studio in her hometown called Queen City ballet; then she was a trainee with Ballet West in Utah for two years before joining Bayerisches Staatsballett in September 2019 as member of the corps de ballet.