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ST. LOUIS – Dancing their way across the country. American Ballet Theatre has taken to the road, traveling by bus and truck to eight U.S. cities over 21 days. On Wednesday, the tour stopped in Forest Park’s Shakespeare Glen.

“How does a touring company tour in a post-pandemic world? So, we decided we’d take the show on the road,” says Kyle Pickles, associate general manager with American Ballet Theatre.

With their usual, indoor venues still shut down, the American Ballet Theatre had to think outside to get back in front of a live audience.

“This is really the first time we’re performing in front of live audiences,” Pickles said. “Dancing together with your colleagues. People you have been missing for the last 16 months. So, it is special on so many levels.”

This tour stop is extra special for the Pickles, a south St. Louis County native and SLU High grad.

“It really is so special to finally be performing in my hometown,” he said.

During an afternoon ballet class on stage, audience members could be seen already staking out spots for the evening performances. Pickles says the heat hasn’t stopped the crowds from coming and it won’t stop the dancers.

“Dancers love to be warm. Their bodies need to be,” he said. “I don’t know if this is what they really had in mind. They’re going to embrace it. Hope for a little breeze.”

The short 50-minute performances can help introduce audience members to the world of dance.

“The music is great. There’s Duke Ellington and Tony Bennet. It’s just an evening for you to enjoy. We’re trying to find markets that we maybe don’t go to all the time to allow them to see ABT. You know, we perform in New York every year, and not everyone makes it to New York.”

From St. Louis, ABT Across America will head to Charleston, SC, and Middleburg, VA, before concluding with a performance at Rockefeller Center in New York City on July 21, 2021.