Friday, March 12, 2010

one opening night at the ballet

Adelaide Giuri as Odette and Mikhail Mordkin as Prince Siegfried with two unidentified children as Little Swans in Alexander Gorsky's staging of the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 1901. Wikimedia Commons

Went to my first ballet last night. Sarah wanted to see the National Ballet's production of Swan Lake as a early birthday present. Thanks to timing, we wound up being part of the opening night crowd.

First lesson I learned: buy tickets in person at the Four Seasons Centre, thanks to a hefty service charge for those bought online and some technical difficulties that sent us to the ticket booth after it appeared our etickets had already been scanned. Grrrr.

My momentary bout of irritation dispersed when we reached the souvenir counter. Sarah cast her eye on a miniature pink ballet slipper keychain that allowed her finger to pirouette. We soon headed up to our seats near the top of the auditorium, where the view high above the action wasn't bad at all. Occasionally the perspective made the figures on stage resemble flowing parts of a deluxe music box, which heightened the sense of fantasy.

After the impressive stage design used for the prologue, the first few minutes were an endurance test as bodies flew around onstage but didn't seem to lead to anything. The score helped get me through the early patches, as I found myself tapping out certain instruments (and thinking about how Tchaikovsky's score was used elsewhere). Sarah later noted that the opening sequence felt like a warmup for the dancers, which made sense as a) I'm rarely riveted by opening drills during sporting events, and b) my attention rarely drifted from the moment the swans showed up.

While we enjoyed the performance, I'm not sure if the couple on our left did. During intermission, I overheard one say "well, at least we saw the Four Seasons Centre" in a tone which suggested a greater appreciation of the architecture than the performance. After the break, they proceeded to chat for several minutes after the orchestra resumed playing, which caused daggers to fly from Sarah's eyes. The invisible weapons proved effective.

As for me, I'm open to seeing more ballet in the future, classic or modern.

Sarah's summary: "It's so pretty...tres belle!" - JB

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