Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Social Whirl

Oh, I tell you, living in the East Village has certainly improved my social life.  Which is pretty ridiculous, since I could have easily gotten anywhere I chose from Chelsea, which in fact had way better transportation than my current neighborhood has.  I think the thing was that I was simply out of town to most of my friends, who frequently have cause or desire to be in the East Village/Lower East Side area, but who never have any reason whatsoever to be in Chelsea, so they kind of forgot I was out there in exile. 

So last week, would you believe I went to the ballet TWICE?  I have a friend who works in phone sales at the New York City Ballet, and he hooks me up with tickets.  I must say, I was surprisingly unimpressed by three of the ballets I saw.  I went to an all Jerome Robbins evening last Wednesday, and I LOVE Jerome Robbins and was prepared to be enchanted.  With the exception of the last ballet...I wasn't.

The first piece was In G Major, with music by Ravel, and it left me totally cold...the problem is me, I think, not the ballet.  I'm a rank traditionalist, and this was Robbins in VERY modern mood.  The music was interesting though, because I hadn't realized that Ravel died so late.  Somehow I kept lumping him into the 1900's in my mind, when in fact he died in 1937.  The result was that this particular music had a lot of very modern sounding jazz bits in it, which was fascinating.  Please don't ask me what the hell the ballet was about, because I couldn't possibly tell you.  Excellent dancing, of course...just not my style.

The second ballet was a mourning piece called, logically enough, In Memory Of.  It was fairly depressing, what with a dying girl and mourning dances.  It must come before Robbins choreographed Les Noces, which has somewhat the same theme, but which I love...I haven't bothered to look up the dates.  Again, not to my taste.  And it was done to Alban Berg's music, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate Alban Berg.  He got involved with Schoenberg at some point or another, and it shows.  Strange flatnesses and atonalities creep in, and I hate them.  (Yes, I love sue me.)

Ah, but the third ballet!  It was utterly charming and absolutely hysterically funny.  In my youth (that would be, oh, 1876 or so), there used to be band concerts in the park, not rock bands but little funny oom-pah groups or string quartets and things, and that was what the ballet was about.  A gentleman came out, sat down at the piano onstage, looked at the its keyboard, and took out his hankerchief to dust the keys, at which point a large puff of dust appeared.  It went from there.  People wandered on with chairs to watch the concert...a very henpecked man with a virago of a wife, a group of rather raucous young men in search of pretty ladies, the pretty ladies, and a girl in love with the pianist who sat right at the upstage end of the piano to lean on it and moon at him, and was so fascinated that she didn't move a muscle when someone removed the chair she was sitting on.  (I can do that trick, but it's HELL on your thigh muscles.)  The poor henpecked man kept trying to follow the pretty girls, and his wife bopped him on the head with her purse for his was just charming and funny and lovely.  And music by Chopin, which was a great relief after that damn Berg stuff.

Then last Friday I went to a dress rehearsal of the new Christopher Wheeldon ballet, DGV: Danse a Grand Vitesse.  I could NOT make heads or tails of this thing.  Wheeldon is supposed to be the new Great Hope of choreography, but frankly...  The music was by someone called Nyman (I think), and was interesting.  People came on and off and did all sorts of lifts and things, and various people writhed in the background, and I found the whole thing somewhat depressing.

But what the hell...I really can't spend the rest of my life confining my ballet going to Swan Lake, now can I?  One must broaden one's horizons.  Even though I should love to see Swan Lake at the's at least comprehensible.  And it has pretty tutus.

You may or may not have gathered that I am a ballet nut.  I had great plans to be a ballerina, and took ballet for years, and would, in fact, have made a terrific ballerina except for one tiny little problem...I am without a doubt the most untalented dancer in the world.  How on earth I managed in all the years I did musical comedy is beyond me...up to and including actually dancing in Sweet Charity.  Yeah, a Bob Fosse show.  In that instance, I announced to the choreographer that I was a singer who moved (preferably behind a large piece of scenery) and he said, "Don't be silly!  By the end of this season, you'll dance!"  At the end of the season, he said, "You know, you were right.  You can't dance."  Duh.  I knew that.  Another choreographer, fascinated by my complete lack of dancing talent, once told me excitedly, "I've got it!  You can't count to eight!"  I can count to eight, you know...just not when I'm trying to dance.  I start to forget the steps somewhere around six.  Ah, well...there's always Shakespeare.  THAT, I can do.

And tomorrow night I'm going to see a friend's band playing.  What I should be doing is hanging pictures (they're all still leaning against the bedroom bookshelves) and generally getting this place together properly.  But I want to go out and play, so there.

And tonight I watched the third Narnia movie (so I'm a what?) in complete comfort in my big chair with my Diet Coke and my ashtray.  I love it here!

Love, Wendy

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