September 24th, 2017

Swanning around in Delhi

Delhi is not known as a city with a ballet culture – heck, we don’t even have a proper theatre here – but, oh joy of joys, the ballet came to town this weekend.

“Swan Lake”, no less, with only a small company of dancers, and recorded music, but it was ballet  🙂 and the hall was packed last night 🙂 and there is nothing wrong that an evening of Tchaikovsky can’t put right 🙂

We were 2 mother & daughter combos, which is always, always a good thing.

Despite endless ticket hassles, the total brunt of them borne by daughter dearest, and bonkers traffic approaching Siri Fort and even more bonkers traffic leaving Siri Fort after the show, the evening was lovely.

“Swan Lake” is – well, yes – it’s ballet at its showy-off-y best.  And I do so love it.

Last night, I was explaining to Kemaya that a corps de ballet of 12 swans was not the norm, and here is Mr. Balanchine, no less, to back me up:

“A traditional Swan Lake requires a company of at least 75 dancers with an incredible corps de ballet of at least 24 swans (32 would be preferable) and lavish sets and costumes…”

We only had a small corps de ballet but they danced their hearts out, and here are the cygnets – one of my favourite parts of this favourite ballet because I know how to dance this…here, watch the clip I filmed first, and then I’ll explain:


My boast about knowing how to dance the cygnet’s dance.

Years ago, many, many, many years ago, I studied ballet as a child and then a teenager.  It is, without doubt, one of the things I love the best in the world, and even though I was too tall, and not actually good enough, I absolutely loved ballet.

We were taught the steps of this iconic dance and to this day, decades later, I watch this rapid-fire sequence, saying the steps in my head…it’s a long-lost link to my childhood…

The 32 fouettés in Act 3 went off without a hitch, despite restricted visibility from our seats (that’s why we need a proper theatre, Delhi) :

Sadly, and without wishing to sound the least bit patronising, since there isn’t a ballet culture here, there was none of the anticipatory buzz about this tour de force that usually happens, with the audience cheering and applauding well before the ballerina finishes – as in this clip below, where the dancer from the Colorado Ballet looks so happy throughout:

The company which performed last night is called the Royal Russian Ballet, and I must admit to never having heard of them, nor of the industrial company that brought them to town. But, since they were advertising future ballet productions, perhaps things are set to change here.

Delhi might j-u-s-t have put paid to its reputation as a city without a ballet culture.

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