Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Ballet 11/30/08

More Ballet 

Wind: 15-20 mph
Temp: -2.5c

Last Friday night we attended the ballet; again. I am feeling a little like those in the 17th century who, without radio, television, or movies, found their only entertainment in the ballet, opera, and concerts. What I wouldn't give for a concert. I am full-up with men in tights.

This time it was Don Quixote, an interesting production using the eccentric Spanish "knight" as a foil to wonder through the various scenes of, of course, dancing in various circumstances. I love the first scene where he and Sancho Panza discussing the romantic old days of knights, maidens in distress, and jousting with the enemy in his rustic library. As he strides off the stage with his lance and Sancho in tow, sans toe-shoes, I'm thinking, this is more like a play and I can handle this. Whereupon, the next scene falls back on the dancing and I am dashed upon the shoals of despair, well, it wasn't all that bad, but I was hoping for a little less twirling and a little more jousting. The short video below gives an idea on the setting and costuming. The sets were far more elaborate and the costuming was lovely.

As it turned out, the costumes were a little more concealing and the dances a little more varied, beinset in a royal court, a gypsy camp, a country scene where the Don does his thing with the windmill, and back to the ballroom for the final scenes. The introduction of farce; the heroin's father and the fop, his choice of suitor for her; Sancho and the Don; the and the heavier costuming actually made it very colorful and quite enjoyable. I could still use a good Handel concert, or maybe some Tchaikovsky.

The Mickelsens and the Patriarch (sounds like a sit-com) were to go with us, but sister Mickelsen's tooth was worked on again by a second dentist and she gave their tickets up to the Nikoliachevs who escorted the Patriarch and we met in the theater. The Patriarch Rogers is of course quite well founded in Russian theater as a professor of Russian literature, so he had many anecdotes and stories about all facets of Russian theater as well as his own dabbling in play-writing and production. A very excellent guest at any event involving Russian anything.

Here he is with Brat Pyotr and his wife at the theater. I caught the Patriarch in an awkward expression, but he looks more composed in the other picture with us and Brat Pyotr. Maybe Pyotr's wife is just a better photographer. Regardless, he is an interesting person full of information he would gladly share with anyone interested enough to listen. I enjoyed him very much.

The ballet was in four acts with a finale that last 10 minutes and a curtain call that acknowledged everyone except the ushers. Boy do these folks know how to draw out the applause. Two of our friends from Second Branch, Anna and her mother Vira, were also at the performance and Anna gave me two of her clandestine pictures of the performers, a strict no-no, but appreciated. Another case where the rules are not the rules.

Here is a portion of that extended curtain call. This is only a minute or so, but it shows the enthusiasm of the audience. The heroin character was played by a marvelous balerina and she deserved all the applause the audience could muster. In the video below, she goes off to the right and pulls the orchestra conductor out on the stage and he gets an increased applause and then at the end he is seen at the far right in a suit.

With all of the ballet in this town, I was a little surprised at the casualness of the attendees. I saw them dressed in everything from jeans to diamonds (I didn't get out my loupe) and a lot of 9-11 year olds with their mothers and young adults (20-somethings) eager to be seen. The applause was also a little surprising. Most audiences know that you applause the director as he/she approaches the stand and turns to acknowledge the audience. These folks applauded the lights being dimmed, the spotlight being turned on, and finally the director whose head finally appeared above the orchestra pit railing. There was also several incidents of clapping with the tempo of the music. That was new to me.

The people here are an interesting blend of apparent grumpiness, dogged determination, and youthful exuberance one would expect at a high school athletic game. Lots of energy, lots of emotion, and lots of pathos. No doubt, they can be as they wish; it's their city. I am just constantly surprised and entertained by the contrasts.

What a country.

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