I hardly know where to start. There has been so much going on. Perhaps with something as apparently simple and lovely as ballet.
I accept that ballet is one of those things that people either love or hate. Obviously I am in the former, having travelled to Sydney recently to see the Paris Opera Ballet, and this weekend I went to see Dendy’s screening of The Pharaoh’s Daughter.
The Pharaoh’s Daughter was first staged by Marius Petipa in 1862, and it was a lavish production. This most recent production by the Bolshoi was no different. Three acts, with different scenery and costumes in nearly every scene and the entire company, so it seemed, on stage. Unlike many of the stories from the nineteenth century, this one has a happy ending. Boy meets girl, faces danger and betrayal, girl returns favour, and they live happily ever after. Sort of, given that its all a dream sequence. It was based on a story called La Roman de la Momie by Theophile Gautier. It’s available at Project Gutenberg and has been added to the ever extending ‘to read’ list. I was unaware until I started to write this that Gautier also wrote the scenario for Giselle, which is what I travelled to Sydney to see.
It also appears that he was a cat fancier, if the cat quotes are anything to go by. ‘If you are worthy of its affection, a cat will be your friend but never your slave’, he said. Indeed, as I said to the Iron Paw this morning at 5.33am, ‘What did your last slave die of?’
The Paris Opera Ballet was performing Giselle, and despite a) being evacuated from the theatre and b) the annoying child behind me, my friend and I were entranced. L says that seeing Giselle as a little girl is what entranced her. I suspect that the girl behind me felt much the same, but sweet as her interest was, she was far too young to be attending. Her constant questioning and commentary to her mother distracted everyone around her and detracted from our own enjoyment. Especially as L had crossed the continent to see it!
I am crossing the world soon to see the Royal Ballet perform La Bayadere! Most extravagant birthday present ever. Fortunately it is not a matinee ticket, so I am unlikely to be disturbed.
Ballet restores something in me. Whenever I am tired and sad, or in lament, I can lose myself in the grace and delicacy of ballet. I know full well that this grace is acquired through relentless work, and I treasure it all the more.