Saturday, June 28, 2003

Odette and the price of culture

Last night I took Phoebe to the ballet. Pictures are not yet uploaded, because Yahoo! is being a total pain in the butt. **edit: photos (+ monkeys)**

The ballet (Swan Lake) was wonderful. It was yet another new choreography, and as usual the ballet suffered for it, but the set was improved immensely (to the point that it almost overshadowed some of the dancing) and of course the music is fantastic no matter what. I cannot stress enough that the dancing was excellent, but the choreography lacking. The best illustration of this is an observation I made in the first act. A male dancer had a solo, after which the audience applauded. This is absolutely normal, except that the solo required nothing applause-worthy. Female ballet dancers (ballerinas) are known for many, many special moves. Male ballet dancers have exactly three things going for them: A marvelously toned ass, a huge bulge, and the ability to leap spectacularly high. This particular solo consisted of the gentleman in question spinning around about three times. I'm terribly sorry, but any ballerina in the corps de ballet can spin around six times, with her off leg held up higher, en pointe, and smile while doing it. If the male dancers are to impress us, they must jump really high in the air. That is just How It Is.

There is a short piece in Act II for the four cygnets. I seem to remember thinking that the dancers were actually much younger, perhaps ballet students. In my recollection, they ranged in size from left (a tall girl en pointe) to right (a teensy girl in a different tutu and regular ballet slippers). Now, it is entirely possible that I am right about the height thing but it was merely a case of two drastically different-sized soloists, but I suspect that I am right in my memory and the number has just changed.

All of the dances for the corps, that is, the swans' group numbers, were phenomenal. There is nothing more beautiful than thirty women in white moving in unison onstage - the Dance of the Snowflakes is another favorite, or it was until Kevin McKenzie got his hands on it.

Paloma Herrera danced the roles of Odette and Odile, and Marcelo Gomes danced the role of Siegfried. Paloma was wonderful, if a bit overly dramatic in her gestures (has ballet always been that way?), but poor Marcelo didn't have an opportunity to show that he could dance until the end of act three. I must say, though, that once he did - boy, can that boy jump.

Speaking of jumping, I burst into tears when Odette threw herself in the lake, and didn't stop crying until well after the curtain calls. I wonder if Phoebe noticed. (Incidentally, I suspect that curtain calls would not take quite as long, at least to get to the solo bows, if it were not such a long journey up to the stage for the conductor.)

After the show, Phoebe and I had a cup of coffee at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble. We meant to go to a 'real' place, but that was very convenient. Also, neither of us had coffee - I had chai and she had hot cocoa with extra whipped cream. It was very nice. We talked about stress, diseases, and zombies. Voudon zombies, not cinematic zombies (though of course there was a brief detour in that direction).

This entry is probably longer now than the ballet, which has four acts, a prologue, and an apothesis. Time to go.

P.S. The price of culture (besides dumbing us all down) is apparently $90.