I went to see The Sleeping Beauty today, performed by the English National Ballet. Wow, but it was good. Stunning costumes, lovely dancing…but it left me a bit cold. When I was young, ballet seemed like magic in pink shoes. Tutus (OK, I still dig the tutus), sparkly crowns, dancing en pointe, pirouettes…it was just awe-inspiring.
Today was a different experience, and not just because I had a wriggling four-year-old on my lap. Yes, it was my daughter’s first visit to a full-length ballet, and watching it with her made me see it with fresh eyes. ‘When’s the bad fairy going to appear?’ she wanted to know, ten minutes into the Prologue. ‘I don’t know,’ I said, wondering just how much walking around the stage there was going to be before the story actually got going.
Maybe I’ve become part of the on-demand generation? Maybe I’m too used to writing books now where things HAVE to get moving along swiftly? Whatever the reason, I found myself looking at the ballet thinking, ‘Yes this is beautiful. Yes, I can appreciate the huge amount of skill these dancers have. But goodness, it needs a decent edit!’
The Sleeping Beauty ballet is nearly 3 hours long, with TWO intervals. You could do the story part of it in about fifteen minutes. I would have enjoyed it more (and so would my daughter) if it had been about an hour and a half. Including the bit with the cat dancers from the end, along with Red Riding Hood and the Wolf (who bizarrely turn up to the wedding party – anyone know why??). And Tchaikovsky’s music is wonderful, but I can only hum you two tunes from the ballet, and one of them was turned into a song by Disney.
I feel a bit disappointed in myself. I feel passionately about the performing arts – ballet, opera, youth theatre, modern art, music, street dance, am-dram, new writing – the lot. But I found myself thinking, ‘Is this still the right thing to be spending all this money on these days?’ Our tickets cost £32.40. EACH. That is a LOT of money. And there were a lot of dancers, and even more incredible costumes…but I found myself wondering, ‘And?’
What do YOU think? Have you ever seen a ballet?
Love from Jo
PS sorry about lack of pictures, I still can’t upload anything for some reason. But you can visit the English National Ballet page here and see pics from the Sleeping Beauty.