Monday, 20 December 2010
A weekend of ballet
We had not one but TWO wonderful ballet outings this weekend. Or at least, both ballets were fantastic, but the travelling to the first one was rather less so. As UK readers may be aware, we've been hit by rather a lot of the white stuff, but with tickets for the Royal Opera House on Saturday and two little girls who we didn't want to disappoint, we decided to make our best effort to get there. Conditions were difficult to say the least, but K dropped me and the girls off with 3 minutes to spare. He thought he'd missed the first act as he went off to park, so was in no hurry to get back, sauntered along, oblivious to the fact that I was texting him to say that it still hadn't started, and then suddenly realised when he got into the building that it was running 10 minutes late and appeared at our seats!
After such excitement, we were quite glad to sit down and enjoy the show. The first act was a one act performance of Peter and the Wolf, danced by students of the Royal Ballet school, and was really very well done. I've never seen this done as a ballet before and it worked extremely well. The second half was the marvellous Tales of Beatrix Potter - Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggywinkle, Squirrel Nutkin were all there - I am always so impressed to see the dancers dancing so well in such awkward cosutmes. The production didn't sparkle quite as much as when we saw it last year, perhaps because they had had to make a number of last minute substitutions, but the girls, who take ballet lessons, were absolutely enthralled. I was entertained to hear them describing it to their Mum later on - rather than telling her about the animals and costumes, they provided a detailed description of the different dance moves that had been used!
Luckily, the journey out of London was far better than the journey in, and we saw lots of pretty Christmas lights, including Harrods all lit up. After a quick cup of tea, we then attempted to get from Wokingham back to Oxford. Not a great journey - it involved being stuck for about half an hour, with no idea what was happening...but we did eventually make it home, very tired but pleased to have been able to take K's nieces for a wonderful outing.
What a relief that Sunday's ballet excursion only involved a 20 minute walk down the road. Wrapped up, we headed for the Phoenix Picturehouse along snowlined streets. I started thinking of mulled wine as we got nearer, and as we opened the door into the cinema, we were suddenly able to smell it! The Phoenix is one of those brilliant cinemas where you can take a proper drink in with you, so we got a beaker of mulled wine to share as we headed for our seats. We were there for a live screening of the Nutcracker with the Bolshoi Ballet, beamed live from Moscow! I'd anticipated something similar to watching ballet on the TV at home, only a larger sized screen, but a real effort had been made to make it a real experience. We arrived to cameras showing people going into the theatre, and then went behind the scenes and watched the dancers getting ready. Watching the ballet itself was also amazing, because the cameras were able to zoom right in on the dancers - at first I found this a little irritating as I am used to watching the whole stage, but as the performance progressed I decided I liked it as it enabled me to see a level of detail which I don't normally see, such as the expressions on the dancers' faced.
Absolutely wonderful afternoon out, and I would definitely go to more live performances (there are different ballets being screened during 2011 but unfortunately they all clash with my new Sunday employment)