The Donor Reflecting Pool in front of Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Arts District. Carter Rose

Theater & Dance

AT&T Performing Arts Center Reopens with Outdoor Performances

The venue is using Strauss Square to host socially-distanced performances and events this September.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center is bringing back live shows this fall, starting with a few outdoor engagements in Annette Strauss Square later this month. The venue has filled its schedule with local arts organizations and performance-based fundraisers this season while tours remain on pause. For now, all shows will be held at Annette Strauss Square and the audience will be seated in socially-distanced squares painted on the lawn. 

The lawn spaces are first come, first served. Each square represents a ticket, and small groups are allowed to sit together so long as they are six feet from neighboring guests. Seating is not provided, but small lawn chairs (only four inches high) and blankets are allowed. A few other things to keep in mind: only small clutches or clear plastic bags are allowed and the coat check is closed. That means any oversized chairs, backpacks, umbrellas, coolers, or other forbidden items will be banished back to your vehicle. 

The Center tested out the new setup on Friday with Flamenco Fever’s Memorias Flamencas, a production of the venue’s Elevator Project, which supports small and emerging arts groups. The sold-out performance was a success and, apparently, the audience didn’t mind following new COVID-19 safety protocols like staying within the designated squares, wearing face masks (except when seated), and maintaining distance from other groups while on the campus. AT&T PAC is also moving towards a touch-free experience by introducing digital show programs, offering parking passes online at a discounted price, and encouraging the use of its Noble app for concessions.

This fall’s events at Strauss Square will look nothing like this pre-COVID scene.

This Friday brings something a little different: AT&T PAC will host Glow Flow, a “flow-in-the-dark yoga experience” by Chelsea Smith of City Yoga. Smith will lead a 60-minute, all-levels Vinyasa class set to pop hits. Tickets are $30 plus fees and include the class, a tote bag of healthy products, a Beyond Meat burger, and glow bracelets. 

Next weekend, the center presents two programs by local dance companies. First comes ROOTED: Envisage Dance Installations by B. Moore Dance on Friday, September 25. Created by founder and artistic director Bridget L. Moore, the piece challenges “artistic practices by reimagining, rebuilding, and reinstalling works that were made in the past to reflect the present, and the Global World as it reopens for the future.” The company designed the performance specifically for Strauss Square. Tickets are $29 plus fees. 

The lineup wraps up on Saturday, September 26 with Ballet North Texas’ Night On the Trinity. The production consists of four pieces celebrating innovative choreography and music composition, including two world premieres by artistic director Nicolina Lawson and associate artistic director Anna Sessions. Tickets for this performance are $35 plus fees. 

So far, those three upcoming shows are the only in-person events on AT&T Performing Arts Center’s calendar through the end of the year, except for a lone TITAS/DANCE UNBOUND performance scheduled for Friday, November 20 at the Winspear. A spokesperson for the venue says that there will not be any shows in October, but something is in the works for December. 

Hopefully, AT&T PAC will continue using its outdoor space to give performing arts groups a safer platform during the pandemic. With North Texas arts organizations losing more than $67 million in revenue since March, many groups are fighting to survive while theaters and indoor venues remain closed. Opening Strauss Square and other outdoor live entertainment venues, like the new Tin Star Theater, provides those groups with a little financial relief. Not to mention, it provides an open stage–something that artists and audiences alike desperately need right now.

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