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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

February 12th, 2007

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12:03 pm - Dressing up and going to the ballet. . .
Over the weekend, I went to the ballet with Maggie. I don't really feel it necessary to try an explain again why I thought this was such a good idea: folks mostly aren't interested. But the ballet was about as confusing to me as I expected, though I had a good time doing that whole "grown up, dressed up date" sort of thing I enjoy doing.

The first piece was to (I believe) four Vivaldi concerti. This peaked my interest because I know and love Vivaldi quite well: I have played his music, listened to it, and loved in it. I was confused, though, because the orchestra pit wasn't open (our seats were quite good, just stage right and down on the floor).

It turns out that they weren't bothering with an actual orchestra, but just had the music pumped over the speakers. Vivaldi lost his warmth and magic through that medium, and I noticed that the concerti were rearranged for what sounded like an odd Spanish guitar. I spent about ten minutes horrified at the situation, before I finally decided that it's not the ballet's job to provide work for down-on-their-luck pit orchestras.

Instead, I settled back and realized that I couldn't figure out what they were trying to do, and I realized that ballet, with heavy foot-falls and often fast movements rarely strikes me as "graceful". But the movement to the music, such as it was, made some sense and worked with the piece.

The second piece was a strange, smokey dance where five couples all danced as different psychological aspects of the same person. While an interesting concept, I don't know enough about ballet and how dance tells a story to fully grasp whether it made sense or not. On the other hand, when all five couples were out dancing their own variations on the same theme, it looked pretty cool for about two minutes. Then it just. . . looked like disorganized chaos again.

The third pice, after the first intermission, was set to Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Included were "Scarborough Fair/Canticle", "Homeward Bound", "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night", "The Sound of Silence", "Mrs. Robinson", and "Cecilia". I linked a couple of the lyrics because it struck me as I was listening to the music and watching the ballet that the choreographer didn't really. . . grasp the songs.

It was mentioned before we saw the piece that it was originally supposed to be a ballet to the music of the Beatles, but copyright and price got in the way, and so someone suggested the he do Simon and Garfunkel instead. His reaction, according to the gentleman relaying this story, was, "Who?"

And that really showed in this performance. While the dancing seemed to match up just fine with the music (rhythmically, etc.), it didn't grasp the story in the music. "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" was the first song this was evident in: the story, of course, is one of a man and a woman going back and forth about how to prove the other's true love. The "Canticle" overlay, though, is anti-Vietnam War.

What I found, when watching this ballet, was that this second part of the song was completely unexpressed. The same happened with "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night", which is also a commentary on current events, but more explicitly so (many people can listen to "Scarborough Fair" and completely miss the Canticle that runs parallel to it). Then the song "Cecilia" weirded me out completely, because it was five guys dancing around to the happy music that is "Cecilia"'s melody, but completely missing the story of the song.

While it was interesting to see, it just felt shallow to me, like there was no depth.

The final piece was "group therapy", where famous couples danced together to work out their dysfunctional problems. It was set like a group therapy session, with each couple sitting next to each other in a semi-circle. And they would dance together and explain their problems. The first couple was Bonny and Clyde, the second Fred and Ginger, the third Hamlet and Ophelia (with Hamlet's father busting in), and the fourth was Lois and Clark.

Bonny and Clyde danced with a set of handcuffs on, which made their movements interesting and fun to follow. I didn't get Ginger and Fred at all. Lois and Clark, well, you know their problems.

But Hamlet, Ophelia, and Hamlet's father were quite good. Hamlet and Ophelia started out dancing together, working out their problems, and then the ghost of Hamlet's father poked his head in from off-stage and freaked Hamlet out. The interplay between the characters continued like that (with Hamlet's father stealing Ophelia from time to time) throughout the rest of the piece. It was fun to watch.

In the end, the ballet was fine. While I didn't "get" most of it, and a heck of a lot of it was jarring and mostly just confusing to me, it didn't generally suck. Besides, I got to spend it with a hot woman, so that was quite nice. In all, I enjoyed the date with Maggie, but I wouldn't say that I really enjoyed the ballet.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "Boats To Build", -JB

(7 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:February 12th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
So often a good ballet is spoiled all that jumping around crap. I close my eyes, listen to the music, and can generally enjoy myself that way.
[User Picture]
Date:February 12th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)

Perhaps I'll try that next time :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 12th, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC)
Do you wear glasses? I do, in situations like this I can always take them off and enjoy the impressionistic blurs :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 12th, 2007 06:50 pm (UTC)
Contacts, unfortunately. But if I ever get a pair of glasses (I don't have a set I can actually wear out), I'll keep that in mind for sure :)
Date:February 12th, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
"But the ballet was about as confusing to me as I expected, though I had a good time doing that whole "grown up, dressed up date" sort of thing I enjoy doing."

And I think that that was my favorite part of the whole evening...being "grown up, dressed up" with my boyfriend for an entire, uninterrupted evening (and, damn, you clean up nice =P ). I was really interested in the way you perceived the ballet - I'm so used to looking at it from the perspective of having a substancial dance background that I forget what it might look like to someone who does not.

[User Picture]
Date:February 12th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)

My own background, here, is mostly in music. I love classical music, particularly things that I've played and enjoyed playing (and Vivaldi is high on that list), so my perspectives there are going to be deeply coloured by those experiences.

I admit, I just don't understand the storytelling elements of ballet, but I deeply and certainly understand those elements within music. Songs are stories to me, each one speaking differently than all others. I remember not long ago telling the story behind Buffett's "Fins" to a girl at Mitty's wedding, and it was a wonderful experience to convey the story, as I heard it, to her. I like to translate those stories.

You clean up better, btw.
[User Picture]
Date:February 13th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
Stick with classical ballet. I don't care for the modern stuff at all! Actually I haven't been to the ballet since I was tiny but I love it when they have early Baryshnikov and similar stuff on TV. I used to have such a crush on him:)

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