Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Week 5: Sleeping Beauty

Although I can appreciate the beauty of a good lie-in and even the occasional afternoon nap I have not, alas, spent this week sleeping.  I did, however, go to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool last Saturday night with my mum.

My Relationship with Formal Dance

Unlike many little girls of my generation I never really attended dance classes at a young age with the exception of the occasional Irish Dancing lesson.  Maybe even at that young age I could have been described as faddy although I think that it was far more likely that being so heavy on my feet with the grace of a baby elephant and the balance of Weeble (I'd wobble but I wouldn't fall down!) just meant that dance wasn't my thing.  I remember being in infant's school and the nurse taking us out one by one and asking us to hop out of the room on one leg and back in to the room on the other.  It should have been a fun game for a six year old but I just hopped in and out on the same leg.  I just couldn't manage the other without falling over.  

That's probably why I went to swimming lessons instead of dance school.

For this reason then I 've never really been interested in what you might term Contemporary Dance.  I don't suppose I have ever really been bothered enough to attempt to appreciate or understand it.

That was until I saw this beautiful advertisement poster in the station on the way to work one morning:

There was only one thing for it.  It was time to see if its fair to judge a book by its cover.... or a ballet by its poster as may be more accurate in this particular case.

The Performance of Sleeping Beauty

The Empire Theatre is a lovely venue for any performance, from its traditional red velvet seats, to the ornate ceiling and marble plinths at the rear, it feels like a special place.  Couple this with a full audience dressed to impress and an almost audible anticipation of what's to come and you have an exciting evening before the first cast member has even made an appearance on the stage.

However I should maybe mention here that I am also not a big fan of classical music.  It just isn't something I listen to.  If I had to choose, I'd say I'm more of a Smooth FM kind of girl, seconded by local commercial radio or even BBC Radio 2 but NEVER Classic FM.  If you add this to my lack of interest in ballet dancing, the evening should have been a complete washout but, as you might be able to tell from the atmosphere I have alluded to, the shift of the balance quickly changed.  

I won't spoil the story for you though everybody surely knows the basic tale of Sleeping Beauty.  Matthew Bourne has taken this and given it a twist.  Whilst the traditional Tchaikovsky music is used throughout and the story begins in the the late 1890s, when the original ballet was first performed, Bourne takes you right through to modern day with amazing sets, costumes and humour.  Traditional dancing was interspersed at times with some, quite frankly, unbelievable dancing in which performers were so fluid they look as though their bones must have disintegrated but yet their strength was always apparent.  In other scenes traditional ballet seemingly morphed in to something more akin to modern street dance.  

It was truly spectacular to see.  

Unfortunately, with it being a formal performance the opportunities to take photographs (as proof for this blog!) were limited but this photograph taken during the interval gives you an idea of the Gothic themes of the show.

We did try to take some with me in them during the interval but unfortunately this coincided with my mum's coughing fit (it was slightly messier than that but the less said the better!) and basically the photographs reflected the mood of the photographer - blurry!

Still a bit blurry (below) but more usable, this is the infamously inspiring poster outside The Empire in all of its glory taken on the way home.


It was absolutely amazing.  

I didn't realise how emotional it had been until the very end when all the cast stepped forward for their bow raising their joined hands together above their heads.  I thought they looked as though they were about to give us a rendition of the Hokey-Cokey, which I thought was absolutely hilarious in contrast... only to find my laughter almost turning to tears for no explicable reason.  

It's fair to say I was moved by the experience and look forward to seeing Bourne's other 2 ballets, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, sometime in the hopefully not to distant future.  


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