Preparing for the Unthinkable: Dealing with Death in the Dance Workforce


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Calvin Hunt (left) and E.J. Corrigan (right), courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Calvin Hunt (left) and E.J. Corrigan (right), courtesy of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

By Steve Sucato

Dancer Pedro Pupa, a Brazilian native, couldn’t have been more excited about Sarasota Ballet’s upcoming season he told the ballet’s assistant director Margaret Barbieri after a class on the morning of June 4th this past summer. Tragically, within hours of that conversation the energetic and amiable 20-year-old’s hopes for the new season ended after the bicycle he was riding hit a delivery truck that had pulled out in front of him. While the accident that claimed his life happened just a block away from the ballet’s home at Florida State University Center for Performing Arts, the shock and sorrow over this heartbreaking loss reverberated throughout the company, Sarasota, and the dance world.

Pupa’s unexpected death and the untimely deaths of others in dance companies nationwide in recent years have persuaded many dance organizations to develop or assess a preparedness plan that they can implement in the event of a tragedy.

So how does one plan for a tragedy? You really can’t. You plan for your organization’s response to one. That is to say, put in place the information, guidelines, training, and materials needed to help company leadership and staff deal with a most difficult and often chaotic time.

Click here to read more at FROM THE GREEN ROOM: Dance/USA’s e-Journal

Pedro Pupa

Sarasota Ballet’s Pedro Pupa.

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