The Legend of Love was my first glimmer that going to the ballet, even if a person isn’t entranced by it, can make a difference. When it was over, I thought to myself, you know, I think I liked that. I came home wanting to listen to the music again. There were just some charming things about the performance: the man who wrote the music was interviewed. And in that Russian way – so matter of factly, none of the slick charm that I see when watching the Met interviews. Even his costume was off -- or maybe on. His suit pants didn't match his suit jacket. One of the shoulders hadn't been tailored right. But that didn't matter. There he was, talking passionately about music ... which is what really mattered to me.
This twist away from perfect imaging and dialogue happened again tonight. The translator stopped French Pierre Lacotte, who restaged this ballet in 2000, to tell him to speak in shorter chunks, that it would be more interesting for the audience to hear the translation that way, rather than in large piece. I am pretty sure that would have been edited out if this had been from another country where the technology is more sophisticated.
Still a dream come true, to sit in my local theatre and see the sumptuous architecture of the Bolshoi Theatre, to hear that haunting violin music at the beginning of the Third Act, so see the muscular legs of the male dancers – as the King of Dance, Sergei Filini, said in an interview – their job is to have a smile on their face and to make you think that what they are doing is effortless. And it worked. The smile didn’t leave their faces and a few times I thought I could stand up in the theatre and make one of those split leaps that would probably carry me right over into the next row. Since only Wyona and I were on a row, I practiced some of the Egyptian arm movements, just the ones that I could keep hidden in the front of my body so no one else would know I just had to try that move. The result? A little too much arthritis to get a really good imitation going.
Wyona and Greg went to The Hermitage production yesterday. She said the theatre was half full. There must be more interested in museums than in ballet. I don’t think there were 10 people in our theatre tonight. Who cares. There must be other people in the world who are interested, for it was broadcast in 100 countries and the descriptions of each scene were in six languages, so someone is going to the ballet.
Wyona and I didn’t agree to make this critique, but when the show was over, we could both describe the stunning costuming – at one point she leaned over to me and said, “What do you think is the material in the dress of the woman who is making the introductory remarks?” I didn’t have to even think. “Raised brocade, a silk panel and then the sequins.” Those old Home Economics skills in both of us die hard. We didn’t talk about it, but both of us can probably describe the rings she had on both hands as well.
The ballet was wonderful. The asides (costuming, watching the audience at the intermission, checking out the crystal chandeliers, seeing the dancers warm up, noticing the style of the tux on the conductor, watching the small Egyptian child's feet scamper across the stage) -- all of that also makes the ballet fun.