Originally uploaded by paul veraguth.
I am what you might call a 'freestyle dancer', and only if you're feeling generous. It's not that I am devoid of rhythm, it's just that I don't have a great deal of confidence in being able to stick to a routine, that I am better off just disappearing into a crowded dancefloor where my movements can be swallowed up.
And I really do admire those people for whom dancing is not just enjoyable, but is a profession - a way of life. I guess I'm like that with anyone who makes a living doing something that I simply could not, or maybe would not.
I took myself off to a matinee performance of "Sleeping Beauty" at Chicago's Lyric Opera House. I expected the theatre to be full of grannies but instead, the place was packed to the rafters with wannabe ballerinas; little girls of 8-10 years of age, wearing home-made tutus, white stockings and little patent leather shoes. They were all, in a word, adorable.
Before the show, the excitement of the little girls was palpable. And when the live orchestra broke into Tchaikovsky's beautiful score, they hushed and then gasped when the curtain rose to reveal stunning costumes and a group of principal dancers in tutus every colour of the rainbow.
Of course the older kids amongst us were marvelling at the athleticism of the dancers. Even the man in front of me, so obviously dragged along by his near-hysterial wife, was ooh-ing and aah-ing when the jumps were particularly high, or the ballerinas remained 'en pointe' for longer than you expected humanly possible.
And given that the story of "Sleeping Beauty" is so well-known, it's easier to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, because you're not required to learn the plot at the same time.
Towards the end of the second act, when the prince had woken Sleeping Beauty, and the kingdom was celebrating, I got a bit bored. The prince and his future bride had a bit of a dance-off, and then the King of the Fairies and the Queen of the Fairies joined the troupe, and I thought that whole bit went for too long. But I was just a bit impatient for the happy ending that I knew was coming.
Sure enough when the guy FINALLY got the girl, the place erupted and little wannabe ballerinas around the room leapt to their feet and applauded. It was all very cute.
Sometimes if I got to something like this, where I'm ignorant about the artform, I can feel like an intruder. But I was vindicated on my way down the stairs today when a father scooped up his little ballerina and said, "you know what sweetie? I liked it best when the guy lifted the girl up in the air and he caught her right before she hit the floor". And the little girl shook her head sadly at the poor ignoramus of her father and said, "well yes Daddy, that's obviously what he's SUPPOSED to do!".