Resplendent in her favourite smart dress which raises its skirt like a tutu when she twirls and JUST fits her (this may have been its last outing) 9-year-old Mini-Me was hopping around with excitement in the lobby of the theatre in anticipation of her first live and non televisual ballet-watching experience: Swan Lake in Watford. One might have thought she would be put off since she was actually told she was unsuitable for Ballet by Miss Julie, her teacher of a few years ago when she was just 5. But excited she was (-even though it was nearing bedtime).
"They look like dolls!" whispered Mini-Me in my ear as the curtains went back to reveal the troup of sinuous- limbed dancers from the Russian State Ballet of Siberia in pretty costumes, indeed. Their tippie-toes tickled the stage, and charming as it was to someone who has only been to the ballet once in her life (albeit at L'Opera in Paris and totally, enthrallingly breathtaking in a way that was impossible at Watford Colosseum) I couldn't resist staring instead at Mini-Me's delighted face as she witnessed this perfectly gratifying introduction herself. Some 25 lithe dancers attempted to captivate us with their pretty pirouettes, gravity-defying leaps, and dreamy pas de deux, however I couldn't help but feel that their style was somewhat cramped by the size of the stage and slight out of sync-ness of their collective moves. But actually, what do I know? Not a lot, as it happens.
Thankfully, we had quickly googled the plot beforehand so we sort of knew what was happening. Classic case of mistaken identity with Prince Siegfried accidentally promising his heart to Odile the wrong swan, condemning Odette, his true love to possible lifelong misery and/ or suicide. It probably would have been a good idea to purchase the programme but being the tightwad single-income single-parent that I am, the gist was good enough. Apparently, Swan Lake has alternative endings depending on who is presenting it and we speculated what would be in store at the end of this production
SPOILER ALERT Well, it ended with the Prince Siegfried and his nemesis the Evil Sorcerer both drowning in the lake during their ensuing fight. Leaving Odette to pick up the feathers and carry on swanning around without him. How sadly familiar, these days. We exited the theatre into a vibrant-blue, full-moon-lit sky that was an eerie and magical echo of the lake scene backdrop.
We came home and Mini sat in the kitchen warming her hands around a cup of milk while I loaded the dishwasher.
"Thank you for taking me to see Swan Lake, Mummy."
"You are very welcome. There's no one I would rather have gone with."
"It's a shame the Prince made a mistake, Mummy"
"He was a bit of an idiot really, wasn't he?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he should have known that whatserface wasn't his true love; he shouldn't have just promised his heart away like that. I mean, really! Some men can be quite stupid... Were you hoping for a happy ending, darling?"
Mini-Me nodded sleepily.
"Me too." I sighed, closing the door of the dishwasher and pressing ON.
THIS WEEKEND THE RUSSIAN STATE BALLET OF SIBERIA ARE PERFORMING THE NUTCRACKER
Incidentally, while googling "pas de deux" to make sure I vaguely made sense I happened upon this totally awesome video on youtube. Made my insides go funny, but watch it. It's amazing - especially if you forward to about 3 and a half minutes in, (if you don't have time or patience to watch the whole thing).