Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's cold, but there is ballet.

Hello all.

This morning we had a hoar frost that lasted the entire day in the back (north facing) garden, and beautiful blue skies (side note: why can blue skies be plural?). Here is a picture of a rose in our garden at 11am. The sky, though it seems white, is actually blue.
So it is getting colder, and I am sitting with my blanket and my beanie and waiting until the radiator comes on at 10pm, at which time I will sit against it.

I love my radiator.

On Wednesday night I was riding a tube escalator and saw a sign for Strictly Gershwin, put on by the English National Ballet and finishing soon. As soon as I was home I checked for seats and got one of the last ones up in the balcony for £10 on Thursday night, and went along.

It was amazing.

I was a bit disappointed at first because the seats were only half-depth (well, I did only pay £10) and the orchestra pit was empty. In NZ ballets they sometimes won't have an orchestra, and I thought this might be the same, but when the curtain went up the orchestra was there on the stage! The conductor was conducting and doing Charlie Chaplin impressions at the same time! The dancers came on in beautiful dresses and suits and danced beautifully, and then there were singers, alone and in harmony, and sometimes ballet to go with it and sometimes only the singing. One particular piece began with a woman singing in the corner of the stage, and a dancer appeared beside her to tell the story of the song with dance. I loved the way the story was passed from the singer to the dancer and back again.

All the music was Gershwin: twenties and thirties jazz (check Youtube for 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'Summertime' if you don't know it).

And then the dancing drew near to ballroom! My favourite dresses of the night were white sparkly dresses with heavy hems that swirled and draped to perfection, and had twenties-style black decorative belts that seemed somehow art nouveau.

And then there were tap dancers! Two men, very good, who were later joined by half the rest of the company with walking sticks and awesomeness.

And then there was tango!

And then there were can-can dancers!

And then they all got together on stage at the same time, dressed as nuns and sailors and soldiers and flower girls and nannies and someone rode a bicycle around the stage and tringed their bell and I wondered if it was all over. If it is all over, I thought, I have done well out of my £10.

But there was more to come. In the second half, there was more dancing, more singing, more ballet, more Charlie Chaplin impressions and... rollerskating.

I couldn't stop grinning. It's incredible the vitality and talent you see on stage, and when there's so much of it, and it's all so different, and they put it all together, the effect is incredible.

My favourite bits in musicals are the songs where they have a few (or most) of the main characters singing different parts and gazing off into their own middle distance as the tension builds - I'm thinking One Day More from Les Miserables and El Tango de Roxanne from Moulin Rouge. The final scene of Strictly Gershwin was the dancing equivalent of this - all the different dancers on stage at the same time, all dancing their own style but coming together as a cohesive whole.

Despite the uncomfortable seat, I would gladly go again. If only the season weren't finishing...

1 comment:

  1. Have a listen to the final movement of Beethoven's 9th, on good speakers or headphones - multiple interweaving voices and instruments and themes, I think in the same vein as your last para :-).


what do you think?