Monday, November 19, 2007

Jerome Robbins

I was really disappointed when I couldn't get a ticket to Friday night's performance of Glass Pieces, In the Night, and West Side Story Suite as performed by the National Ballet of Canada. Disappointed that was, until I was able to get a complementary ticket for Sunday afternoon's performance!!! Not only was my ticket free, it was also almost in the centre of the very front row!!!! I could see right down into the orchestra pit, see the beads of perspiration wick off the dancers' foreheads, see the expressions on their faces, and the flexing of their muscles. It was awesome!!! The ticket I got for free would ordinarily cost $155.00. But that's the thing about both the Dance Break program and the staff comps. program. You get the best available seat. The best available seat today happened to be out of this world! I've had some not so great seats too. But usually they're pretty good because the cheaper tickets sell faster.

Today was the last day for this particular program. It was three short works choreographed by the late great Jerome Robbins. This year is the tenth anniversary of his death, so the performances were something of a tribute to him and his work.

The first was Glass Pieces. Set to music by Philip Glass, it featured all sorts of walking, but really really neat walking. I don't know how to describe it, but I loved it. I guess it all fit so well with the music. And there was a real drive to it. It was great.

The second piece was to Chopin piano music. The pianist was lovely. It feature three couples. It was the mellowist, the most traditional, of the three. Definitely a middle act. But I also really enjoyed it. The three couples were lovely.

The last piece of the day was the one I'd been most interested to see, as it was the greatest departure for the company. It was Jerome Robbins West Side Story Suite, an approximately 30 minute long piece inspired by the musical of the same name - choreographed and directed by Robbins. In it the company had to do some very jazz type moving, and people even sang! I think they did a great job. It was a risk for them, and it paid off.

I was sitting beside a lovely elderly lady whose husband was an oboist in the ballet orchestra for something like 35 years. I love all the interesting people I meet at the ballet. I often sit by myself as I get last minute tickets when my brother's on, and inevitably the person sitting next to me has some fascinating story or connection to the arts in Toronto.

Getting to the ballet today, though, was a different story altogether. Not only was there an almost sold out house at the Four Seasons Centre. The Santa Claus Parade was passing the front door of that building, and there were Raptors and Argos games at about the same time. I never thought I'd make it in one piece, and I've never seen so many strollers on one subway!

Sadly the ballet also let out just after the parade had finished. The streets were crowded, and one look at the subway entrance told me it would not be a pleasant ride home. So, I decided to wander along Queen street to see if I could get a good look at the Bay's animated Christmas windows. Not a good decision. The crowds trying to do the same thing made it almost impossible to see them. I will go back next time I'm in the area. The Queen St. entrance to the subway was also terrifying, so I braved the Eaton's Centre for awhile and then wandered up Yonge St. as far as Wellesely, where my shoes began to hurt, and I was able to hop on the subway with little difficulty. Exercise and crowd avoidance!

Next week is The Merry Widow and then in early December The Nutcracker begins its annual run.

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