This weekend a programme about Darcey Bussell’s Heroines of Ballet started on BBC2. I am watching this alone as I do not want distractions from anyone. As a child I went to ballet classes and my teacher offered me my lessons for free as she thought I had potential and my Mum couldn’t afford for me to have the more advanced lessons. I loved it. I read about the stories of the ballet, devoured the histories of these ordinary girls and boys who became great dancers and choreographers. Unfortunately after a few years we moved so my lessons could not continue, but my love of it never dwindled. I loved everything about it. The music, the costumes, the stories – and just watching these amazing dancers perform.
I’m can’t remember the first time I actually saw a Ballet live, but I remember going to see The Nutcracker at the Festival Hall one Christmas when my youngest sister was about 7 – she was as enchanted as me. I also remember seeing Nureyev dance. I had a seat right up in the Gods at the Coliseum and the atmosphere was electric! He appeared to float when he leapt round the stage…just amazing!
In the 60s there was often a Ballet segment in the Film Musicals especially if Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron or Cyd Charisse were involved which brought it to a wider audience. And The Red Shoes with Moira Shearer is a classic.
During the 80s Ballet was given a bit of a boost when Princess Diana became a Patron of the London City Ballet, and a group of us at work started to go whenever there was a new one to see. Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Cinderella, the Nutcracker and more modern ones set to Gershwin’s music. Some of the girls really only liked the Ballets with the short tutus, but it was a lovely night out.
I have also been to see Giselle, Les Sylphides, Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardee and Romeo and Juliet – all classics.
When my son was 3 The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden had a Christmas special of Peter and The Wolf and The Tales of Beatrix Potter and I took him. I can tell you that when Jemima Puddle Duck flew across the stage, the whole place erupted with excitement!
Another lovely show to see with little ones is The Snowman. I have been with a school group and with a family group and it is utterly enchanting…for everyone!
And then there was a new kid on the block…Matthew Bourne. His Swan Lake was the first to have a flock of Male Swans…and they were magnificent! All of his ballets are based on the classics but given a modern twist. My friend of 20 years and I are quite proud of the fact that we have seen every work of his. We keep an eye out for them on the Sadlers Wells programme as the tickets go quite quickly! I have taken my “not sure I like ballet” teen daughter to see his Nutcracker and Edward Scissorhands ( yes, really!) and she has grudgingly said she enjoyed both.
Of course in the past few years it has been about the film Black Swan which I have to say freaked me out somewhat…but the dancing was great!
I think it is a shame that tickets can cost such a lot, but I am very pleased that the Ballet Companies tour and give people a chance to see it.
Have you ever been? Do you like it? It’s not elitist, there really is something for everyone…go on – give it a go!