This is a late post but nevertheless memorable as I was able to accomplish a milestone I’ve been wishing for years.
I don’t remember when was the last time I watched a live ballet performance. I don’t even remember the title. It was probably at a time when my mind was too young to interpret what the myriad of ballet movements meant and how they corresponded to the tempo of the classical music. It must have an effect on me since every time I see ballet, whether it be a YouTube presentation or a Barbie movie, I drop whatever I’m doing and watch. I never understood how some people my age don’t appreciate ballet. They found it boring and yawn worthy. I, on the other hand, saw magic. Every twirl, gesture of the hand, each jeté, and pirouette is a graceful accompaniment to storytelling. Everything in it is refined, elegant and distant; something you can’t touch.
I came to comprehend the sacrifices ballerinas experience through a manga titled “Swan“. It tells the story of Masumi, a contented, young ballerina, who gradually found herself in the competitive world of professional ballet. She undergoes extreme challenges, both physically, and emotionally, until she becomes known in the world of ballet.
Similar to how I came to appreciate the world of basketball through Slam Dunk, the Swan showed me that ballet isn’t all about grace and beauty. That like any athlete from any sport, injuries happen, lives can change for better or for worse from a wrong misstep, and that ballet is among those artforms that put their artists’ lives at risk for that perfect interpretation. Every technique, breathing, and imagination is a skill and talent needed to be cultivated from years of training, body aches, and criticism.
When I learned of the Moscow Ballet troupe coming to Canada to dance The Nutcracker, I immediately invited my husband to watch. It had been a dream to watch either The Nutcracker or Swan Lake danced by the Russian troupe since ballerinas from Russia are known to be of the top caliber in the ballet world.
It was a very cold night commuting to Jack Singer Concert Hall but it was all worth it. Tchaikovsky’s music has been a favorite of mine, possibly because a lot of his music was used in commercials or other forms of media usage, but nevertheless emotionally stirring. Moreso when I finally understood how each musical note corresponded to a certain scene. The colorful backdrops and clothes were a visual treat to the eyes and the crew made good use of subtle light effects to add magic to the plot. If not for the sound issues that happened at the later part of Act I and early part of Act II, it would have been flawlessly perfect.
What I love about ballet is how it reminded me the power of the dance and music art form. No words were necessary and you hold the power to give interpretations of your own through the natural course of an already known storyline. It is a magical feeling of intuition and emotional stirrings that can only be brought to the surface by an already well-experience cast.
What my husband and I felt after the show: we wanted more. We felt like there could have been more. More story, more dance, and magic. Later that evening, I discovered that The Nutcracker ballet doesn’t fully follow through the story as adapted by Alexander Dumas based from the libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I wanted to see more of the Flowers dancing, I wanted to see the Angels come down to the heavens, and I wanted to be mesmerized again by the Arabian dancers hypnotic movements.
Watching The Nutcracker stirred up an old love for classical music, which started about 9 years ago, when I first saw Nodame Cantabile, a Japanese drama about a pianist, who’s life greatly changed when he became the conductor for group of musical losers. Thus, I looked for a YouTube audio of a complete ‘The Nutcracker’ soundtrack.
I’m now keeping watch on when the next ballet Russian troupe will be in town. And if they will happen to dance to Swan Lake, I’ll definitely be there.