This weekend for the first time, Miami ballerinas from the Miami City Ballet are twirling, leaping, and clickicty-clacking across the stage in their pointe shoes. Opening night was last night, and Vancouverites have only two more evenings to catch the work of choreographer George Balanchine whose work spans from the early 1920s into the late 1970s.
For a little background, Balanchine was a guy who was dancing ballet in 1920s Russia. Him, his wife and his small troupe of dancers went to dance in Germany in 1924 and used the trip to flee to Paris. Keep in mind this is the year that Lenin died and Stalin was getting his ducks in a row for the Soviet Union. It is also the year Hitler was arrested for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch, which was an early attempt at a Nazi takeover in Munich. Sh*t was going down in the western world, and Balanchine was busy doing his part to keep art alive.
So it is with utmost respect when I say how much I enjoyed the pageantry of the first act (Ballo della Regina, 1978) when a man in teal tights, a deep v-neck, and the puffiest of sleeves trounced onto the stage over and over triumphantly like a jaunty unicorn in a room of geldings.
The second act (Symphony in Three Movements, 1972) was a bit like a boy vs. girl dance-off. Who won? My desire for all life’s problems to be solved by dance-offs won. The thing about ballet is how your mind wanders and you invent all kinds of stories for the dancers and why they might be in a quarrel, or how in an alternate universe nobody speaks, they only dance. And then how no one would dare ask me to communicate anything to the public via blog if communication relied on my dance skills.
The last act comes to us from 1934. 1934! At the height of the great depression, in New York, Serenade was first performed. Just think of the escapism of going to a ballet full of ghostly skirts that ends with a dancer collapsing like a broken little bird only to be carried off by her ankles, standing upright and tall above all the others. The ballet was so adored by some, that a crater on Mercury was even named for this work, since the blue reflections resembled the tutus; it is called the Balanchine Crater.
There’s still time to see the Mercury craters, the dance-off, AND a flouncy unicorn man. All in one show. They will be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight and tomorrow, tickets are here: Ballet BC