Pointe Technique

First a quick follow up to last week. Generally more things seem to have eaten the caterpillars then they have eaten our vegetables, though I am not sure any of our green will win awards for beauty. I just think it is fun growing them, and the red currant harvest was as good as last year’s so the problem is now what I can do with the things. The preserve cupboard (yes, I have one) is still pretty full from last year.

Some people who probably do not eat as much jam are ballet dancers. Or maybe they do. Certainly they expend a lot of energy bouncing elegantly over the stage. I have never been really into ballet, although I suppose being from the home of Billy Elliot I probably should always had an inner drive to put on the tights. The Lovely Wife is fond of any kind of dancing so we do go sometimes, most recently to see ‘Coppelia’ – which for those who, like me, had no idea what it was about, is a slightly odd but amusing tale of toymakers, unlikely lovers (the male protagonist seems to prefer a doll for goodness sake, and his intended seems not to mind once her rival is shown to be made of wood) and a resolution where everything is OK with a few dances, a bag of money and some beer – and I was surprised to find I enjoyed it immensely.

I know that sounds like damning with faint praise. But I am not a fan of ballet as an art form normally. I can appreciate it to be clear; I admire the fitness, skill, strength and grace of the dancers. I think the music is often wonderful. But put together… It just does not usually work for me. I was trying to work out why all these good elements just do not quite click with me.

I think it is lack of plot.

So for example with ‘Coppelia’ there are three acts, with the last act being the wedding. By this point the plot is pretty much over and it is a series of dances by various guests and the principals and a tiny amount of last minute drama, quickly forgotten, and then it is back to happy dances again. I can feel my eyes glaze over as yet another set piece is executed, but there is no progression. I found this to be a bit of a shame as I really enjoyed the first two acts, which were full of humour… Now, I know it is a short ballet relatively thinking and it did end before I started looking at my watch, but really I would prefer something shorter and concise – the attitude seems to be that if it doesn’t last for 3 + hours somehow you have been short changed. Now I can concentrate for that length of time – goodness, sitting through any Peter Jackson Middle Earth movie enforces that – but only if the plot keeps moving. So I do not think I’m ever going to be a big fan of the ballet, or indeed opera, which also has a tendency to be (in my opinion) overlong and have too many moments where nothing happens very much and what you have is a lot of beautiful music; but I would rather sit in my own armchair to listen to such music than to be cramped into a balcony and worrying about the train home.

That said – I’ve booked for The Nutcracker at Christmas. But then that’s a fluffy one and we are going to a matinee… And it’s Christmas.

I do not think that I am ever going to really be a fervent fan, but I’m glad I’ve the opportunity to go and see such things; that is something that most people I know do not have the opportunity to do so.

Now excuse me while I try practising impressive lifts on the Lovely Wife. I might even ask her first.