San Francisco-Marin Food Bank pop-up food pantry at the Chris Hellman Center for Dance. Courtesy San Francisco Ballet

Dance Companies Are Giving Back by Distributing Meals and Groceries to Their Communities

As dance studios remain empty, some companies have found alternate uses for their buildings. By swapping slippers for aprons, two major dance organizations continue to make an incredible impact on their communities during this difficult time.

San Francisco Ballet Hosts a Pop-up Food Pantry

San Francisco Ballet has partnered with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank to turn its Chris Hellman Center for Dance into a pop-up food pantry. The idea came about after company member Max Cauthorn, who'd been delivering groceries to some of his high-risk neighbors, asked SFB executive director Kelly Tweeddale how the company could help out on a larger scale.

Since April 13, volunteers, including SFB dancers and staff, have been distributing bags of groceries to community members in need. They intend to continue every Monday, from 9 am to 1 pm Pacific, until San Francisco's shelter-in-place order is lifted.

A volunteer packs free meals for World Central Kitchen.

Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group Distributes Meals to Locals

On the East Coast, the Mark Morris Dance Group has partnered with Dance/NYC to become a distribution site for World Central Kitchen. Since April 20, the Brooklyn dance hub has been offering free, pre-packaged meals to local residents and employees. Meals are available for pickup weekdays from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm Eastern, or until supplies last.

"This is a dire situation," said Mark Morris in a press release. "I am heartened and grateful that the Mark Morris Dance Center is ready and capable of participating with Chef Andrés and the Word Central Kitchen in making pick-up meals available to anyone who needs them." Need a lunch? Dancers are welcome.

Even as these dance organizations are financially struggling, they are doing what they can to offer kindness to strangers.

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Charlene Gehm MacDougal as Lead Nursemaid in Petrushka. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, courtesy the MacDougal family.

In Memoriam: Joffrey Dancer Charlene Gehm MacDougal, 69

Former lead dancer with The Joffrey Ballet, Charlene Gehm MacDougal died of ovarian cancer on January 10 at her home in New York City, age 69.

Gehm illuminated the inner life of each of the varied characters in her extensive repertoire. Whether she was the gracious hostess in George Balanchine's Cotillon, the riveting Lady Capulet in John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, or in the tumult of William Forsythe's Love Songs, she drew the viewer's eye and heart to the essence of the role.

As Forsythe puts it: "Charlene was certainly one of the most elegant dancers I have had the privilege to work with. Her striking countenance flowed into her work and, joined with her wicked sense of humor and intelligence, created thoughtful, mesmerizing and memorable art."

February 2021