Spring won’t be denied. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming — and people are connecting, even when they’re physically apart. The city’s greatest institutions are carrying on as well, offering music, dance and hands-on activities to share in. Here are just a few ways to celebrate spring, virtually.
A lark in the park
Happily, the city’s parks remain open, and Brooklyn’s favorite backyard is no exception. While you can still explore on foot and bicycle the meadows, woodlands and waterways of Prospect Park (while keeping social distance), its carousel, Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House are closed. Then again, you can experience even those without leaving home.
“We have a virtual program called ‘a kitchen garden’ at the Lefferts House, showing you how to make your own kitchen garden from vegetable scraps,” says Maria Carrasco, the park’s vice president of public programs. “We’ll teach you how to grow a scallion from a scrap, and how you can have a bunch of potatoes in 90 days from planting one of the potato’s eyes.”
You can download pictures of the park’s old-timey carousel and color in its horses and lions while listening to an audio clip of its organ musical, and save the birds by making stickers that will prevent them from crashing into windows. And for those wary of inadequate social distancing, there are even virtual tours of the park. Visit ProspectPark.org/virtual.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is closed, but its spectacular cherry blossom display, that annual vibrant, pink heralding of spring, goes on. Take a virtual tour of the Cherry Esplanade or Cherry Walk from the comfort of your couch. Learn about the BBG’s 26 varieties in its cherry collection — including the Weeping Higan Cherry: Seeds for this one were brought here from Japan in 1862. Find it all at BBG.org/collections/cherries.
Met Opera gala, home edition
The men usually wear white ties and tails, and the women, gowns. Not this year. When the Met livestreams its spring gala today at 1 p.m., 40 of the opera world’s greatest singers will perform in comfy-er clothes from the comfort of their own homes. They include Bryn Terfel from Wales, Anna Netrebko from Vienna, Renée Fleming from Virginia and Lawrence Brownlee, from Niceville, Fla.
“I’ve done many galas before — the Richard Tucker, the Wiener Staatsoper — but never from my living room or my little office,” Brownlee tells The Post. “We’ll see what the Met wants and we’ll go from there.”
He’s thinking of wearing a sweater or maybe a jacket, “but I’m in Florida and it’s hot, so it won’t be a tux or even a tie.” At least the tenor knows what he’s singing: the aria “A Te, o Cara” from Bellini’s “I Puritani.” Not only is the melody beautiful, he says, but its message is just right for our times: that loving someone makes the turmoil in the world bearable. Visit MetOpera.org.
Pirouettes and practice
New York City Ballet’s spring season has gone digital and free, with six weeks of performances and podcasts offered six days a week, Monday through Saturday, through May 29. There’ll also be educational workshops including one for children ages 3 to 8, and another — a series of hourlong, ballet-inspired movement classes — led by NYCB’s Wendy Whelan from her barn in upstate New York’s Columbia County.
“I’m looking out the window at a woodpecker on my tree right now and thinking, I just want people to feel good!” the company’s associate artistic director tells The Post of her “Wednesday with Wendy” classes. “I want it to be easy and fun and have people feel 2 inches taller and calmer when they’re finished. Including me!”
Expect some holistic, yoga-like movement accompanied by Whelan’s playlist, which includes a lot of Lady Gaga and a little Coldplay, performed by frequent ballet accompanist Nate Fifield on piano.
Although the program is mostly geared to adults, kids may want to join in, too. “As an almost 53-year-old former ballerina, I feel I have a spectrum of experience,” Whelan says. “[The class] might challenge some and be too easy for others, but it’s really about sharing the joy of dancing.” NYCBallet.com/digitalspring.
Rock around the Rock
Rockefeller Center tends to go all out in the spring, with flowers and shrubs blooming down the length of its plaza, from Fifth Avenue to the skating rink, and family-friendly activities everywhere you look. For now, the action’s moving onto your home screens. This weekend, tune into “Spring Sunday” for free music, live performances, puppet shows and more starting at 11 a.m.
Among the highlights are two art workshops, one of which will show you how to make flour-based play dough that, when combined with food coloring and some ordinary household staples, will turn into all kinds of funny creatures. There’ll also be a DIY crafting workshop led by Paper Source on creating prints with homemade cardboard stamps. And the Shop at NBC Studios invites families to paint their own NBC Peacock using the colors of the rainbow. Details at RockefellerCenter.com, Instagram @rockefellercenter, and Facebook @rockefellercenternyc.
Ice, ice baby!
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan has always been a hands-on kind of place, and this spring is no different. Except, of course, your hands won’t leave the house.
During this time of isolation, says CMOM’s Leslie Bushara, “We pivoted quickly to bring families what they expect from us — storytelling and science projects that are very simple and fun, with educational development behind it. We also wanted to make sure these resources were things they had at home — we didn’t want them to run around getting fancy!”
One of this spring’s projects is painting with ice cubes and food coloring. “It’s mixing colors and art with science, plus it’s kind of wacky and silly,” Bushara says. “It takes families a little out of the ordinary.”
Another museum staple, Storytime Saturdays, has also moved onto your home screen. Bushara suggests families start by making a “surprise storytime” box: Find an empty shoebox and fill it with small items, such as toys, household objects and photos. Then take turns picking out an object and telling a story about it. “You never know what you’ll get,” Bushara says of the results. “It builds vocabulary and it’s a fun way to bond.” Find all that and more at CMOM.org.