I did ballet as a little girl – briefly. I really wanted the tutus and the twirls, but the few lessons that I took had me so confused. What did the teacher mean, “pick the stars”? I continued to read ballet books (so many series and I can’t remember what they were called) and try to do the splits, and later years I watched all the awesome ballet movies, but I never went to the ballet for real, as it never really crossed my mind.
So today, I went to the ballet for the first time. Cape Town City Ballet was performing Sleeping Beauty. I almost did not go due to having no clue what to wear, needing to study and having an ill-timed cold. But I went. Some thoughts:
1. I love how the audience applauds before the curtain is raised for the first time. As if to say, “We appreciate your art and your many hours of practice, regardless of what happens.”
2. I loved the orchestra. I could see a little into the pit, which was incredible. I also liked how the orchestra had some “alone-time” to play. They deserve recognition too!
3. ANATOMY. Even if, in an alternate universe, I did not like the music and the sets and the costumes, I would keeping going back for the bodies. That sounds perverted. But as much as I dislike anatomy, the way that every little muscle is highlighted during a ballet makes me feel as passionate about anatomy as a med school hopeful. It’s like, “The body can DO THAT?!”
4. I worry about how thin many ballerinas are. I’m not part of the ballet world so I won’t pass an opinion about it, and I’m sure they all know what they’re doing, and I know that a lot of people are just naturally tiny. I just hope that aspiring ballerinas don’t feel forced to be tiny when they’re naturally curvy. I looked up some pictures of long-ago ballets and the dancers were short and not really super skinny. This ballet luckily didn’t have any dancers that looked in danger of hospitalisation. That I could see. I think.
5. I enjoyed seeing how South African ballet is diversifying (in terms of dancers and audience). It is great that ballet is not a “whites only” activity, as it has sometimes been accused of being.
6. I had thought it would be difficult to follow the story and sequence of events. It actually wasn’t. And because I had to pay attention to
the dance to stay on track, I did not feel bored once. That was one of my biggest concerns (and maybe a good reason I never went before).
7. Divertissements are awesome. Plus do you know how long it took me to find that word? I loved Puss-in-Boots and The White Cat in the final act.
Tonight I’ll dream of being a ballerina, and then I’ll wake up to study some urology. But that’s okay. I’ll have fairies on my mind.