Sunday, November 04, 2007

ABT: Ballo della Regina, Baker's Dozen, Sinatra Suite, Fall River Legend

So yesterday, was the final day of seeing American Ballet Theater with Wendy--and this time Kir as well--and also probably my favorite day of performances, although so not my favorite audience.

The evening started with Ballo della Regina and I was just excited to see something with lots of symmetry. Well, obviously not just excited about that, but as interesting, and even enjoyable, as I found much of the stuff we've seen over the last week and a half, it was nice to have the symmetry. It was easier to know where to look and follow the movement, and as a new ballet-watcher that's certainly nice for me. And it was nice that the music and movement matched each other so well. How was that for the least insightful commentary on Balanchine ever (symmetry! musicality!)? Oh well, I might not have much of anything interesting to say about it, but I did enjoy it.

Next up was Baker's Dozen which was not so much with the symmetry but had a sort of cheerful (if planned feeling) anarchy to it. I was glad that I'd read the New York Times review because Alistair Macaulay pointed out how much fun stuff occurs around the edges of the stage so I was sure to keep an eye out for that. It was light and fun and inventive and didn't require much thought. The only downside was that it seemed as though it should feel spontaneous, and with a few exceptions it really didn't. That's not really a complaint though, as I imagine it's hard to make memorized movements seem as though they're being made up on the spot.

I had actually seen bits of Sinatra Suite on YouTube and it was interesting for me to see choreography I actually had some familiarity with, since I haven't yet seen enough for that to be a frequent occurrence. Anyway, I loved being able to see the whole thing, particularly the final, solo section which I had never seen before and thought was wonderful. It was also interesting to see it done by different people as Gomes seemed perhaps less smooth and precise than Baryshnikov, but also warmer. So it had a bit of a different tone. Of course I was watching from much further back than the film was made so that could certainly also effect the way I viewed it. You can't see much in the way of facial expression from the rear of the rear mezzanine.

There was a bit of an unpleasant audience experience during Sinatra Suite though as, in the middle of the dancing, we suddenly heard a loud "Shut 'er up," yelled at someone. There was a child who had been crying--although I personally hadn't noticed it--and apparently someone just couldn't take it anymore. I was appalled that someone, instead of saying something polite, or at the very least--and still inappropriate--called something along the lines of "please get her to be quite," would yell, "Shut 'er up," to the parent of a crying child. Because that's just rude and ineffective as the child, if anything, cried louder. And I figured that would be the general opinion. Certainly the parent should have taken the child out to the lobby (perhaps she was in the middle of a row and thought that would disturb people more?). But to yell like that?

On the way to the bathroom though, and while waiting in line, I quickly realized that the ire was directed at child and parent, and how inappropriate it was to bring a child to the ballet. No one, including Kir, who I had walked to the bathroom with, seemed much bothered by the yeller. After listening to the complaining about that in line, I also got to hear a woman bitch about people who arrive late and have to come in between acts. "I'm 77 and I get my ass here on time," she complained. Look, I don't like to be late either but sometimes it happens. Then, as we walked back to our seats, there was some guy talking about how he was going to speak to the house manager about the child--who the parent did take home at the intermission--and everyone else should to, because they should have been kicked out in the middle of the dancing. Because that would have been less distracting?

I was relieved then, to learn that Wendy, like me, was far more bothered by the yeller and the rude people standing to leave before even the first curtain call--as those in front of us did--than by the kid. There had been a child behind us at the previous two performances--a bit older than the crier, I'm sure--and while she was admittedly a bit loud, she was asking questions and learning about an art form and that has to be a good thing. I mean, I don't like children by any means, and I've never thought I much patience for them either. But I thought that the adults were rather more badly behaved than the child on this occasion and having to hear people bitching and moaning about how their evening had been disturbed put a crimp in my evening. So now I'm bitching and moaning to you--don't you feel lucky?

Anyway, the final ballet of the evening was Fall River Legend, which is based on the Lizzie Borden story. It was disturbing but also fascinating, if not historically accurate, in its examination of a person who feels claustrophobic and outcast and commits horrible acts in response to that. I loved the way the flashbacks were handled, the creepy rocking chair bit, and the dance scenes involving the town. I was a little baffled by people laughing whenever she had the ax although I can see where there seemed to be an absurdist streak in those bits. And there were moments when it seemed dated. Still, I think that the ideas and emotions the piece explores remain timely.

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