Gone To The Ballet

"Ballet is completely unnatural to the body, just being turned-out... it's not the way your body is supposed to function, so you actually train your body to be a different structure than you were born with."
Neve Campbell

Today, J and I went to see the final performance of the
San Francisco Ballet’s 2011 Season.  It was Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”, a ballet by John Neumeier.  Here’s the description from SF Ballet’s website:

In The Little Mermaid, Hamburg Ballet Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier blends dance, dramatic storytelling, and spectacle into a stunning interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fable.  With choreography, sets, and costumes all by Neumeier, this ballet—as much theater as it is dance—reveals the depths of the choreographer’s imagination. And it demands the heights of artistry from the dancers, who must venture into deeply emotional terrain in order to convey the ballet’s full message. Neumeier elevates a fantasy into a sophisticated portrayal of psychological transformation and the resilience of the spirit, human or otherwise.

J and I got to the opera house shortly before the show was set to begin.  J noticed the beautiful ceiling, so I took a snapshot of it.

We took our seats after they played the warning sound.  We were way up high in the first row of the balcony.  Here’s the view from our seats.

I’ll start with the things I liked.  Yuan Yuan Tan does an outstanding job as the Mermaid.  Her movements were very beautiful and flowed wonderfully.


I also really appreciated the sets.  They had some great pieces that moved around the stage, and both acts started with really cool-looking enclosed rooms that did an excellent job drawing the audience’s eyes toward the action.  It gave it a real cinematic quality to it.

Before going to the show I had skimmed a few reviews, and all the ones I saw were positive so I thought I was making a safe bet by choosing this particular production.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.  The pacing of this production seemed very slow to me, and it didn’t seem to showcase the ballet talents of the people in the company.  I felt that it had a little too much of a modern dance feel and hardly any traditional ballet.

Much of the first act was unnecessary fluff that neither entertained nor drove the story.  It didn’t help that the story was nearly impossible to follow.  The second act had a little bit more actual ballet dancing in it, but it was still not enough, in my opinion.  Of course, I have never been to a ballet production like this before, so maybe my expectations were too high.

I do know that I plan to read a lot more about a ballet performance before planning to go to another one in the future.  Despite these problems, I was glad that I had this experience as it was something different for me to try to appreciate.
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