So the world-renowned Imperial Russian Ballet Company made its first ever visit to Cape Town over the last week or so, and needless to say, the Lotters Senior, Claire and Chantelle were all dying to see the show – and because I’m such a good partner to my beloved Chantelle, I too said I’ll go and give it a peek. Yes, brave of me I know.
Brought out to South Africa by Edouard Miasnikov, the Imperial Russian Ballet Company is pretty much doing a quick hop around tour all over the country, and needless to say, the SA community is absolutely lapping it up – so much so that the only way we managed to get tickets for the Cape Town Artscape leg of this event is thanks to the great demand spawning a new, extra performance for last Sunday evening!
From the media releases, all I know about the group is that they are well known for producing a number of outstanding full-length and mixed ballet performances, were founded back in 1994, are named in honour of the Russian Imperial Family as well as the masters of the Russian Classical Ballet School, is unique in that it has gone on to create its own school in Moscow and features a particularly talented and varied group of outstanding dancers, all of whom are utterly dedicated to the Company’s penchant for exquisite choreography and absolute excellence. Or so they say.
Unfortunately, details of the whole show was pretty sketchy to grab hold of, but essentially the two hours plus show was broken into two quite distinct halves, namely the modern ballet section that highlighted and included more modern ballet interpretations attached to a singular storyline (which I really didn’t follow anyway) which was then followed by the individual classical ballet performances that pulled extracts from various classical masterpieces, including Spartacus, Swan Lake, and Carmina Burana (not that I’ve ever heard of that last one mind you). Finally the whole thing ended off with a comical bang as we were treated to a ballet interpretation of the classic Western Can-Can dance! (Something I do at least know about thank you very much)
Now as to the first part, I must say I didn’t really enjoy it all that much, not because I don’t enjoy ballet on the whole, but because the group’s performance appeared to very, well, rather unpolished. Timing and synchronisation wasn’t all that great, movements weren’t all that refined and despite the alluring sneaky skin-hugging white costumes that hints just that little bit too hard, I really didn’t take much out of it at all, except perhaps a decent giggle at the ‘beer mug on a string’ and ‘drunk spinning’ segment.
However, come the second half and the dancers appeared to be on a whole other level, more comfortable in the classic form perhaps, performing solo piece after solo piece interspersed with some amazingly delightful doubles choreography, all of which thoroughly entertained the packed audience. Naturally I didn’t recognise any of the segments being performed (and it was harder because by this stage I was slumped back in my chair, eyeballs rolled upwards towards the ceiling), but the variety and skill of what was being performed on stage even I have to recognise and give kudos for, because quite frankly the performers deserved every single clap of the hands they received. (That said, I wish I knew just why they kept bowing all the time, even after only doing a few seconds’ worth of work – clap whores perhaps?)
And then there was the comical Can-Can skit, the only part of the show I genuinely enjoyed and chuckled at, probably my personal highlight of the evening. Scrap that. Not probably but rather definitely my personal highlight.
But the question remains, did Craig enjoy the experience of going to his first ever ballet? The answer is a rather resounding NO.
I understand and recognise the dancers’ skill and ability, I respect the difficult and complex art form, but for me, well I have now beyond a shadow of a doubt confirmed that there is almost nothing more boring than going to watch a ballet performance, even if the dancers hail from Russia, home of ballet. So I’m sorry my beloved Chantelle, from here on out I shall join Riley in his ever unwavering refusal to join his significant other in skipping out on all cultural events that don’t include the word ‘comedy’ in their media description! ;)