Sunday, May 3, 2009


I went to see a ballet with a friend on Saturday evening. Per usual, neither of us knew much about what we were to see as we walked through the opera house doors. Having just arrived from Aachen, I turned my purse and my full-of-vegan-asian-goodies backpack in to the coat check. The checker gave me a funny look and proceeded to look around for a spot to hide it amoung the mink and Yves Saint Laurent coats of the 60+ crowd. I caught some grandparents eyeing my torn and filthy Converse shoes with disdain and I, in turn, eyed their sparkling cleavage.

My friend and I found our seats-- 9th row, not bad. She said, "I like the stage setting." Two identical, 20-foot-high, famous-looking, Romanesque sculptures stood at either side of the stage. I said, "I rather like the foot long cocks," because, due to the height (and nude-ness) of the statues, their penises were, as one might say, "larger than life." I thought a nearby grandparent glanced my way, but maybe that was because I was speaking English amoung a crowd of Germans. The backdrop was a scrim with a contemporary Roman sacrophagus printed on it, quite like one on today's featured wikipedia article.

The ballet opened with a slightly Eisenstein-esque dance. A group of women danced around each other. Their hair was covered entirely with black cloth and they wore long, flowing black dresses. They emphasized the space around themselves with big, sweeping movements of their arms in front, above, and to the side. A leg lift carried the mass of black cloth with it, leaving a noticable, sweeping expanse of space between each woman's leg. The dance concluded with the women circling around each other, stage center, and one of them emerging with a baby doll, wrapped in black cloth. They were then interupted by Trojan soldiers, who removed their robes to reveal costumes like those depicted in the picture above. The soldiers raped/ had sex with the women, and threw them into cages that had risen from the backstage floor.

The Trojan soldiers had a beautiful dance together. Every costume, aside from the mournful women who opened the ballet, revealed the dancer's abdomen, much to my pleasure. The soldiers had sharper, quicker movements. I particularly enjoyed a momement when all the soldiers did a hip shake from side to side.

There was a beautiful sort-of duet: two pairs of Spartan dancers; the first pair, white and dressed in black, the second, black and dressed in gold. The men lifted and twirled their partners around, making the audience forget about the laws of gravity and that one cannot actually glide across the floor as if on skates. The black male dancer danced with particular passion. I wondered then why it wasn't he who was chosen as the lead, which the white dancer apparently was. I suspected the black man had some Othello-like role to play.

At intermission, I said to my friend, "Well, I think there could've been more nudity, don't you?" We went outside to sit in the grass and drink a can of beer that she'd bought in the train station earlier.

In the second half, the Trojan soldiers appeared less and the Spartans more. The Spartans had a beautiful, magnum-opus scene wherein the groups of men and women danced across the stage, running, leaping, pirouetting, and sashéing (i can't spell that for the life of me, but hopefully we all know what i'm talking about) across the back of the stage at speeds a sprinter would be jealous of. During this scene, a group of Trojans costumed differently than the ones we'd seen before, ran across the stage.

ok, i meant to finish this ages ago and do the discriptions some better justice. still, i think the bit i have is worth sharing until i get around to finish my description of the end, fuzzy though the memory of it is.

1 comment:

Regina said...

That was very well done. I got a really good idea of what was happening, better than if I'd been there, because I probably would have dozed off halfway through, as usual.