Friday, 19 December 2014

Let's get nutcracking

“It won't be Christmas without going to the ballet,” they said. “Go see The Nutcracker."

Well, I think a few of my Christmases came at once with those gentleman ballet dancers and their shapely bottoms.

When the opportunity to see The Nutcracker came up, I jumped at it. I’m not entirely certain why I was so excited - I was more apprehensive that I wouldn’t enjoy it as dance is not normally an area of the arts that I am particularly fond of. But, when in Rome - or London, as it were - the ballet and The Nutcracker are synonymous with Christmas and so I ended up at London’s Coliseum.

You see, I was a ballerina, once. My poor long suffering mother has sewn thousand of sequins and battled yards of tulle to create my costumes. I think my stand out performance was the time I took to the stage as a duck.

Professional ballerina

So not only am I a skilled dancer, The Nutcracker is also one of my favourite suites of music. I studied it in high school, played it on the piano and as part of the orchestra on the cello. In all my time, though, I had never realised that the music and the ballet were devised together - that the ballet was not choreographed to fit the music, but that they were written as a whole.

And so, ticket in hand and friends at my side, we pushed our way through the crowd to take our seats.

The sheer strength, agility and precision of the dancers was incredible. The children, too, were impeccable, and I couldn’t help but think how much of their lives must be dedicated to dance.

When the two primary dancers took to the stage - I could see why they won the starring roles. Not even the slightest of wobbles when up on pointe (and please forgive me as my terminology will be completely off), legs at complete and perfect right-angles; not too high, not too low.

Granted, I was somewhat fixated on the gentleman dancer’s supremely muscular upper thigh region. They must pour themselves into those tights, or they are spray painted on. Either way… The ladies costumes were beautiful too, long flowing dresses for the first act, which moved to sparkly tutu-d numbers for the 2nd.

When it comes to the finer points; I cannot discuss these as I do not know enough. I was surprised at how much I had to concentrate (again, I’ll be honest, I was very tired and a little worried I may have to fight sleep). I had researched the basic premise and could follow well enough, but it was interesting to have to focus so strongly on the body language to know how the ballet was progressing. And another thing that I found, which is going to make me sound like an utter fool, is how much of a story there actually was. I guess I had always considered ballet…just…to…be…dancing? It had never crossed my mind that they are actually telling a story. 

And so I’ve been to my first ballet. I’m quite sure it won’t be my last, but I think I will stick to ballet’s where I know the music so I feel more of a connection to the dancers and storyline.

As the wonderful, late Robin Williams once said:
Ballet - Men wearing pants so tight you can tell what religion they are.

I can’t get their scrumptious bums out of my head.