I just saw the very first ballet of my entire life* this weekend, and I am so incredibly excited about the rest of the performances in the National Ballet of Canada’s 2016/2017 season! Cinderella kicked off the season, and while I was sitting quite high up in the fifth ring and couldn’t see in as much detail as I would have liked – especially the costumes! – it was quite an exciting night nonetheless. I had no idea what to expect, apart from popular (read: stereotypical) notions of what ballet performances might consist of (stiff tutus? classic ethereal elegance?) and was very pleasantly surprised: various elements of the story were reinterpreted and the stepsisters fared very well as comic relief, there were zero stiff tutus in sight, in addition to which the transformation scene was quite well done, the forest coming to life in the process of conjuring & presenting to Cinderella the transformative garbs. Part of me does wish they went through the entire change onstage – as it was, a scarf/wrap took the place of the dress, changing up her plain dress for that scene only, and she arrived at the ball in a completely different dress – but I suspect it would have been rather difficult to orchestrate.
I was able to follow along much better than anticipated, there being no dialogue, which I suspect was in part due to the ubiquity of the Cinderella story. The actions are also quite exaggerated in order to aid understanding, and even from as high a vantage point as where I was sitting, I was able to see the sobbing and the struggle of trying on the slipper. I’m curious to find out how I might fare when I don’t know ahead of time what’s going to happen, although I suppose there’s always the program guide. Either way, it was definitely an experience I could only have gotten at the performance.
Currently, Cinderella has ended, but Onegin starts tomorrow, November 23rd, followed by The Nutcracker. The remainder of the lineup in 2017 includes Pinocchio (I am so stoked for this!), Genus & Tarantella & The Concert, A Streetcar Named Desire (and this!), and Swan Lake (also this!). The Toronto art scene is really killin’ it this year, what with Mystical Landscapes at the AGO, Chihuly at the ROM, and pretty exciting lineups for the new year.
- Missed Cinderella? Here’s a search on our catalogue for Cinderella items! This tale has travelled far and wide, acquiring many variations along the way, so I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.
- Christmas is fast approaching, and The Nutcracker is one classic that has stood the test of time. Here’s a quick search on our catalogue – I think the sheer number of variations is part of the fun in looking, personally!
- While I’m sure a good number of people know how Pinocchio goes, it’s always fun to re-read some childhood tales to see what new interpretations can be had later on in life. (Not always, though. Sometimes you’re just horribly disappointed because your memory of the story has been modified and ameliorated over and over until it is no longer an accurate representation of the actual story. See my *note at the end if interested in reading up on memory.) The costume pictures look pretty amazing though.
- Are you studying A Streetcar Named Desire? This link includes Cliff’s Notes, Modern Critical Interpretations, and Barron’s. It would have been so cool if we had gone to see the ballet while studying the play!
- If you’re hoping to see what Swan Lake is all about before going to the actual performance, you can have your pick of the movies we’ve got in our catalogue, listen to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, or read up on variations.
*I’m almost positive I went sometime in elementary school as a class trip to see how a ballet performance comes together, watching them rehearse, but I don’t know if that’s an actual memory or not. On which topic, see The Memory Illusion by Julia Shaw. Anyway, I remember not actually being able to see anything, on account of my glasses not being quite strong enough, so this is the first ballet I’ve ever truly seen.