ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City Ballet is preparing for its first live indoor performance since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Terrifically Theatrical” will debut on Friday, October 8 at The Theatre @ Innovation Square in Rochester.

Artistic Director Robert Gardner searched for the best way to capture the sense of anticipation Tuesday during News 8 at Noon. “It’s almost indescribable,” he said. “It’s been 18 months since we have been in a theatre in front of an audience. We still will be practicing protocols to be able to bring this entertainment safely but there’s nothing like seeing dance live in a theatre fully produced. We have an incredible program. The dancers are so excited about finally getting back on stage in front of an audience.”

Dancer Ryo Munakata is among the company members who have been waiting for this day. “This is very exciting and challenging for me because I’ve never stopped dancing,” he said. “I started ballet when I was 5 years old and I never stopped dancing. But when the pandemic hit, I stopped dancing for the first time. I’m very, very thankful for this opportunity to perform in this theatre. I really love dancing. This brings my life back. It makes me alive again.”

For Munakata, dancing is an essential aspect of living. “People eat. People sleep. Dancing for me is one of them. I can’t stop dancing. I have to keep dancing. The pandemic was a time where I had nothing to do and I was sad. This is very, very good for me.”

“Terrifically Theatrical” will challenge the company to be at its best right away. “It’s very ambitious because I wanted to show off how hard the company has worked, their determination in getting through the pandemic,” Gardner explained. “We’re representing masterworks by George Balanchine, his ‘Who Cares?’ – a salute to Gershwin and Broadway. We’re doing ‘Clowns and others’ – a wonderful work about the fun and foibles of being human. It’s so entertaining. We have a world premiere by choreographer Jamey Leverett, former Artistic Director of the Rochester City Ballet, and a piece with live music. We have a guest pianist. His name is Alessio Giacobone. It’s called ‘Extensions’ and it’s very dramatic. It’s about the relationship between a dancer and music. So it really runs the gamut of what we do, what our profession is, what our life is – as Ryo said – and I wanted to show that in this first performance.”

Performances are October 8-10 at The Theatre @ Innovation Square in Rochester and October 15-17 at the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua.

Get your tickets in advance online at

Here’s a look at more upcoming performances by Rochester City Ballet.

Holiday Magic

November 24 -28,  2021: Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, with the RPO

December 10-12, 2021: Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, NY

The Nutcracker returns to holiday celebrations this year.  Take a magical journey through the forest of glittering snowflakes with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court of delicious sweets. Create holiday traditions and make memories with your family as you enjoy this Tchaikovsky classic.


March 4-6, 2022 – The Theater @ Innovation Square, Rochester, NY

March 11-13, 2022 – Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, NY

Carmen –  a world premiere by Artistic Director, Robert Gardner.  A contemporary telling of the passionate, free spirit, Carmen,  who is not defined by societal norms.  The energy is volcanic, fluid, and their fate is not defined by gender. This dramatic and passionate story is ruled by emotion, regardless of the consequences, creating a riveting ballet experience.

Fiercely Fantastic

April 29- May 1, 2022 – Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, NY

May 20-22, 2022 – Callahan Theater, Nazareth Arts Center, Rochester, NY

The Firebird wields mystical enchantments to defeat the evil sorcerer Kastcheiand save Prince Igor and the Princesses. Robert Gardner brings this Russian folktale to life through Igor Stravinsky’s monumental score in this family-friendly program. The Firebird is ballet’s superhero!