Friday, December 14, 2012

12/14/12 The Ballet

Last weekend, dad graciously agreed to let me have a few precious hours of his time with Katrina, to take her to a performance of the San Jose Youth Ballet's Nutcracker. But then, to my amazement, when Julian heard about it, he wanted to go too?! Whoever heard of an almost-9-year-old boy anxious to see a ballet? But, OK!

I was so grateful that dad allowed them both to go with me, giving up some of his precious Saturday afternoon time with them. That was so greatly generous and appreciated.

This wasn't exactly a professional performance, but no less time and love went into it. I knew about it from a longtime friend, who was actually in it herself, in a non-dancing role. Also, her 5th-grade daughter was in it, in three non-dancing roles this year. They've done this together for the past three years, and I can see what a wonderful thing it is to do for a family. Their sweet Dad acted as an usher and general helper, and I had a chance to catch up with him before the performance and during the intermission, which was great.

Julian and Katrina and I went to the Saturday 6pm performance, and it was absolutely wonderful. I had more fun at this than I ever had at a truly "professional" Nutcracker performance!

For starters, the audience was mostly family and friends of the performers, and was wonderfully animated and enthusiastic. It was held at the San Jose Mexican Heritage Theatre -- not a stuffy venue at all, in fact, sort of in a not-great area in San Jose. We had to park pretty far and walk in the dark from the weird parking lot to get in there.

Katrina was pretty reserved during the show, but Julian was actually rocking and grooving to the music!! I thought his favorite part was the Mouse King and the fight scene, but later he told me his favorite was "the girl in the red bikini" -- the always-sensual "Arabian Coffee" (pretty sure this music was also in Fantasia, though I forget where). I think Julian liked that one as a favorite mostly because of the classic genie-like costume with the halter-top.

I did have one complaint though -- which proved to be unfounded. One of my absolute favorite pieces, Waltz of the Flowers, was choreographed with a soloist during the three "chorus" sections of that piece. Nooo!! The Flowers can't be stationary during that part! That's now how I remember it!!

But, memories are fickle things. Even the gold standard shows, at best, two pairs during the "chorus" part -- and still with most of the Flowers standing idly by.

Barishnikov/Kirkland Waltz Of the Flowers

Ahh, I so love watching this ballet. All three kids watched these excerpts with me too, and were riveted.

The amazing thing about it is, ballet is so hard to do, but I recognize -- and worse -- have done almost every move in it myself, and can name most of them. Incredibly, most of those moves in a super-professional advanced ballet are practiced in plain old intermediate ballet classes, as I took for many years -- just at a much, much, much higher level. That's not so true for hip-hop or jazz, where many of the moves just aren't attainable by the ordinary masses like myself. But there's nearly nothing in this lovely, beautiful, supremely danced Waltz of the Flowers that I haven't done too....just very very badly.

(....and right-oriented....I notice even Gelsey Kirkland does all her turns to the right -- all of them. What if you're left-oriented, like I am? It's as odd as being asked to write with the wrong hand. Well, good thing I was never professional --in baseball being backward is is a good thing, but not so much in dance.)

Funny thing is, years ago, I read Gelsey Kirkland's biography, from which I learned that during the filming of this classic Nutcracker, she had a cocaine habit and a very dysfunctional relationship with Baryshnikov. As angelic and perfect as she looks in the videos, the real story is that nothing is perfect, and everyone has their secrets!

Still, it was so nice to see a delightful Nutcracker with two of my children -- what is more Christmas-y than that?!


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