Last night at the ballet I learned a valuable lesson. . .I’m more of a theater girl.
Don’t get me wrong- I enjoy the ballet. It’s just something I never go to on purpose. Concerts? Sure thing. Improv? You betcha. Theater? Totally. Museums? I’m game. Ballet? I’ll go if someone invites me. I enjoy supporting the arts and while I might not understand all of it, I can appreciate it.
It’s like sometimes when I go to the museum and there’s a painting. I stare at it. Contemplate it. Read about the artist. Maybe I’ll read about what the piece is trying to convey. Say it’s a piece of art intended to be a commentary on how the patriarchy aggressively divides men and women but all I see is a. . . banana. It’s a painting of a banana.
So yeah, sometimes subtext in art is lost on me. I’m not proud of it.
At last night’s performance there were four dance pieces total. The first was pretty in a classical way. The second was my favorite with fluid, funky moves and drumming. The third used sound and lighting in a unique way but maybe the dancers shouldn’t have worn costumes where we could see their sweat stains. The fourth? Well, the fourth was a piece where 14 dancers performed on and around 20 metal tables set to the sounds of rumbling construction. It was billed as having “thrilled many, angered others, and, for some, called into question the definitions of ‘ballet’ and ‘dance’.” Oh! People might get angry at the ballet!
As the lights dimmed I leaned over to my sister and whispered, “I hope someone gets angry and storms out.” About five minutes into it, the elderly woman seated in the row ahead of us, who throughout the performances had been “whispering” to her husband, plugged her ears with her fingers. Soon after, her husband retrieved his walker and they left. I nudged my sister and raised my fist in a mock cry of anger. A few minutes after that another couple not quite as elderly grabbed their jackets and left. Again, I leaned over, motioned in their direction and gave the old-person-angry-fist gesture.
I amuse myself.
The performance was a bit grating but again, the subtext could have been lost on me. On our way to the car, I asked my sister about the piece and she said that the tables were supposed to be icebergs and that the dancers were supposed to be penguins and seals. I asked a bit incredulously, “Seriously?” She answered with a smile, “Yeah, didn’t you see how they waddled around?” (Way to pull my leg, sister. ) But yeah, the tables really were supposed to be icebergs. The whole thing was about an Artic expedition. If I hadn’t read about it I would have thought they were a bunch of hungry students angry about the lack of food in the cafeteria.
Like I said, some of the poignancy is lost on me. It didn’t stop me from having a good time though.