NB: I totally blogged about all of this last night, from my iPhone, at like 11pm. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to post, and so I am re-blogging, in a much less recent/scintillating fashion. Sorry about that.
I didn’t have time to write, as originally planned, during the intermissions. For one, each intermission was 20 minutes and that’s barely enough time to get up and walk the four paces to the orchestra (like, the people actually playing the music) and take pictures of them while they hustle around, then talk to Nancy, then go to the ladies’, then tweet and retweet, and then talk to Nancy some more, and take a few more pictures. I mean, come on — where are YOUR priorities?
Who’s Nancy? Nancy was the seating-guide-and-programme-handing-lady, and she is a real hoot. Nancy’s got two daughters — one in Portland is a GM for a hotel (I didn’t tell her who I work for) and the other in NYC doing stand up. Nancy recognized all of the regulars — she was able to tell them things like “this is a lot like that one program you saw that you got up and left after the intermission”. She was also full of information: an hour before each performance there is a presentation on what the show is about (kinda necessary with ballet), and afterwards you can talk to some of the dancers (I didn’t because it was too late for this turnip by then).
Wait! I’m supposed to be talking about the ballet, though, aren’t I? Ok:
First Performance: Opus 111, music by Brahms, with 12 dancers. There were three groups of four dancers, each of the four dancers (2 ladies, 2 gents) had matching dress, with slightly different colors than the other three groups. So if dance group 1 had purple tights with a brown top and an orange sash, then dance group 3 had brown tights with an orange top and a purple sash, etc. This is clumsy to write about; so here is a picture:
Pictures are awesome. At any rate, this piece was extremely… athletic. You can see from the photo that there is a lot of arm movement — more than the standard arms-up ballet moves you see — and that was consistent through the entire evening. For this one, though, there were a lot of deep squats, lunges, lifting of whole bodies with one arm, etc. As I was front row I was able to see all of the muscles functioning, and the little rivulets of sweat, and honestly? It works. It’s one thing to see a graceful dance, it’s another thing to see the technical skill that must be employed to do it and not have that sight diminish the gracefulness.
Then there was the intermission where I decided I am going to make myself a chiffon hoodie.
Then the second piece was Afternoon Ball. It features a scant 5 dancers, 3 are ruffians/urchins/smack addicts; 2 are fancy-dress ball-dancing. This was one of those performances where it would have been good to get the information on what I was supposed to see in it; I have no idea what the intent was, but here is my take: 3 rough-and-tumble people, living on the street, begging for money and having all of the dramas that that implies (drugs, odd allegiances, etc.). Dancing around them is this extremely well-to-do couple, always missing the urchins by just so much space, completely ignoring them (and ignored by the urchins). At the end, the lady and gent dance off, the girl urchin leaves with one guy, and we have one urchin left, in the cold, alone. And he freezes to death (the last dancer to come out is dressed all in resplendent, floor-length, twinkling white; an icy angel of death. As she puts her hand on his shoulder, the stage lights go completely out). It was BRUTAL. And amazing.
Here are the urchins:
With this done I went back to the ladies, chatted with Nancy, read some work email, and texted the male person to inform him that we would be possibly dragging him to a ballet next year.
Then I decided to actually read the programme, and the last piece “Waterbaby Bagatelles” included 7 music pieces. Number 5 of 7 was by Astor Piazzolla, who is probably the most famous tango musician in the world and certainly my father’s favorite. The seven pieces were very different — dramatic, heavy music; light, fluffy bits; crazy bits. The costuming ranged from what looked like those 1950’s water-dancing movies to what had to be nearly sprayed-on velour bodysuits (tops optional for men). Again, the costumer allowed us to see the amazing musculature of these folks.
I read somewhere that the dancers have an hour-long class on technique each day, and then another 6 to 8 hours of practice, every day. It shows in that unless you’re absolutely looking for it, you don’t see it.