The coronavirus first appeared in the Czech Republic last March, and the government was one of the earliest in Europe to impose a full lockdown to try to slow the spread of the outbreak. The shutdown has affected every aspect of Czech life, including the arts and the country’s most famous National Theater, which is home to the Czech National Ballet. The nationwide quarantine has forced all non-essential workers, including artists, into home confinement. For ballet dancers whose profession requires a rigorous exercise routine, these new restrictions pose major challenges to keep fit and ready to put on a show. The ballrooms in the historical centre of Prague are empty, and the dancers have to take care of their condition by themselves, in their apartments, with their families, but they are helped by video-training sessions with their ballet masters. With the gradual lift of the measures, the Czech National Ballet company switched to a new training system, where the dancers are divided into six groups. For one hour every day, they train in groups of 12 or 13, and this is broadcast online to other dancers who practice at home. “I have more time for things for which there is not so much time usually – reading books, cycling, cooking and especially family. “My mom and sister are the only ones I’ve been seeing intensively lately. “But I miss the theatre. “I miss the adrenaline, I’m looking forward to going back on stage and feeling the butterflies in my stomach,” says the Czech National Ballet soloist, Magdalena Matejkova, during an EPA-EFE photographer’s visit to her home last year.
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