Sunday, 21 October 2012

22. See a ballet

What – Swan Lake performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet company
When – Thursday 18th October 2012 at 7.30 pm
Where – Sunderland Empire Theatre
Who with – Myself (what can I say I like my own company)

I’m not sure why I added seeing a ballet to my list, it was possibly as an attempt to add a bit of class to my life but also I had the curiosity to see whether a production without any spoken dialogue could hold my attention for 3 hours. . .And do you know what? It did. It was bloody brilliant!

The Russian gentleman Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikousky originally composed the ballet in 1876 and has been performed across the world ever since. Even if you don’t know the full story of Swan Lake the music is instantly recognisable. Without a live orchestra then I don’t think they would have been able to do the score justice. It was superb! I remember in primary school being introduced to Tchaikousky in assembly. I think we even had ‘Tchaikousky’ on our spellings list one week – to any teacher’s reading this, please don’t follow in my teachers footsteps and do this; it’s a really hard word to spell!

Not to give too much of the plot away it is a classic good versus evil story with the hero Prince Siegfried being a typical bloke and seeing some hot woman that he wants to make his wife but screws it all up when he falls under the spell of an evil magician (though having no dialogue then that could be open to interpretation, I personally think he was thinking with his pants and not his head. . .) There are a few parallel’s with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet so it would be interesting to know if Tchaikousky was influenced by his work. You can find more in depth information about the plot line from the company’s website 

I thought I would get a bit bored by the constant dancing but I could not take me eyes of the dancer’s feet and legs! The way the women can dance on their tippy toes and the way they can extend their limbs and the flexibility in their bodies are incredible – this did surprise me considering how tight the male dances trousers were (it left little to the imagination!) As a complete ballet novice I could appreciate the dedication, athletic ability and endurance these dancers must need to sustain the level of dance throughout the whole show. I don’t think there was one inch of fat on any of the performers! What Birmingham Royal ballet had also done (which I’m not sure whether other company’s do) is that they added a degree of theatrics running through the production that helped to hold your attention.

For me the person that stole the show was a character called Benno, Prince Siegfried’s best mate danced by Tzu-Chao Chou. The way he was flinging himself around that stage with the biggest grin I have ever seen on his face that did not falter once was so impressive.

The scene that stole the show was the opening to Act IV, the final act. The curtain opened to the lake scene with fog completely covering the ground. As the orchestra started to play the swans dramatically emerged from the sea of fog and started to dance. It was a spine tingling moment, the crowd, which had been pretty reserved up until that point went wild, thundering applause rang out throughout the theatre – a more than deserved reaction to the opening of the final act. If I could describe it in one word it would be 'stunning'. 

All in all absolutely loved it and will definitely be going to see another ballet (I can't believe it took my 26 years to see my first one!). I think top of the list is The Nutcracker. The only thing that I was a bit unsure about was the Sunderland audiences reaction to the 'baddie' with their booing - may I just remind everyone that this is a high quality ballet production and not the Christmas panto, ha ha

I think what this post highlights is that one of the fantastic things about my tea cup list is that it is opening the doors to new experiences that don't have to be a one time only affair but they are experiences that are igniting new interests in me and ones that I can share with my friends and family. On that note bring on the next experience!