Recently, I was able to attend an American Ballet Theatre production of Swan Lake at New York City's Lincoln Center. The dancers, the costumes, the lighting and the venue were all superb. I went with two friends - one who was a seasoned ballet observer while the other was new to the art. It allowed for dynamic conversations that even made me think about ballet.
For the novice observer in our group, his overall feedback was that ballet was not easy to follow.
"Why is there a story if you cannot tell what the story is without reading about it beforehand?" He asked us at our ballet "debrief" over some dessert after the performance.
Our resident ballet expert tried to explain to him it is like pantomime, while I added how one had to really pay attention to the very small cues that were shown by the dancers to even observing and absorbing the set changes, which also offered clues as to what was happening in the plot.
Of course, he did have a valid point. I remember one of my first ballets where I appreciated the dancing and the music, but I did not fully appreciate that next level - the story being told by the dancers.
For this edition of Swan Lake, it was hard not to be impressed when we were watching the best of the best, from the dancers to the set designers to the lighting designers to the musicians. Even the audience was highly involved where there were some bouts of laughter and crying and lots of clapping.
The wonderful part of ballet is there really is something for everyone. Where I was mesmerized by all of the costumes or the fashions, our novice observer really enjoyed the orchestra music while our resident expert took a holistic approach to his experience.
Our resident expert explained to us that although he had seen many Swan Lakes, he too learned something new with this iteration - such as the inclusion of jesters during Act III. He continued to explain that because there are differences with each rendition, it doesn't get old for him. With each new interpretation by the director, a new experience of Swan Lake is to be had.
In turn, whether you are a novice ballet watcher, a middle of the road - like myself, or an expert, ballet welcomes all and offers something for all. And, try watching the ballet with a mixed group like we did - it opens the door for new perspectives. The biggest tip, be sure you have a ballet "debrief" over some dessert and coffee afterwards - you won't regret it.
While watching your next ballet, tap your inner ballerina with an Adea Layering Top Bodysuit.
Comments will be approved before showing up.