At the age of 64 years and five months I saw my first ballet today.
I gained a love of classical music by osmosis from my Dad. He listened to it all the time on the old BBC “Third Program”.
But Dad’s taste was specific. Not for him were opera,(apart from the great overtures and choruses), ballet or chamber music. He relished the great symphonies and concertos of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Brahms, and the oratorios of Handel, and his 19th Century imitators.
And there was next to no regional ballet or opera in England. For those you’d have to travel to London – a whole 120 miles away!
Besides which, in blue collar communities, ballet was conceived of as being snobbish, effete, and perhaps even “faggy”.
When I moved to the USA I served in small towns and cities which had no ballet apart from amateurish Christmas productions of the “Nutcracker”.
True there was the wonderful summer dance festival near Pittsfield at “Jacob’s Pillow”, but “I did not like ballet” so never attended (but once for a modern dance production with my good parishioner Jeanette Roosevelt).
Even in Boston (next to Cambridge) there was no great ballet tradition.
But I said “yes” without hesitation when Ben asked me to join him at the Sarasota Ballet.
I knew that I needed to see and experience ballet.
I am glad that I did so.
We saw “Rococo” variations, a new ballet in the classical style (first performed on 31st May 2008), with music by Tchaikovsky. I was enchanted. I knew enough about the theory of classical ballet to know what to expect.
Then there was the 1936 ballet “Lilac Garden”, with choreography by Antony Tudor, and music by Chausson. This was ballet “with a story”. I found it to be very moving.
The program ended with the 1974 contemporary dance “Troy Game” (Robert North, choreographer; music by Bob Downes).
This all male ballet involved athleticism, “acrobatics” and a bit of camp. It was a crowd pleaser, with wondrous “eye candy”.
Here is what our local paper had to say:
‘Twas a great afternoon and I’ll be back with the Sarasota Ballet for more productions next January.