Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

I had the unexpected opportunity this past weekend to view City Ballet's, “Tchaikovsky Spectacular.”  The first part included the second act of Swan Lake and after a short pause the black swan pas de deux.  After a fifteen minute intermission Tchaikovsky's music was used to showcase twelve different dances each symbolizing, in order, a month in the year. 
Because I'm going to try and attend City Ballet's summer intensive I already had thoughts of seeing the show.  I searched the website and was dismayed to see that I was unable to afford the tickets. That was until my dance teacher from college passed out papers that offered tickets for twelve dollars.  Thinking that I wouldn't get the greatest seat didn't dim my excitement of seeing the show.  I can't drive yet and even if I could I doubt I would want to drive Downtown, so my dad gave me a ride to the Spreckels Theater.  The theater was very small and nothing like the one Polina performed in.  That didn't take away from it's historic architecture though, and it was fancy in it's own way. 
I exchanged my paper for a ticket and they gave me a better seat because I was by myself.  I took it and thanked them without looking at it.  My dad waited with me for a few minutes because the doors wouldn't be opened for awhile.  We were joking how I would have to take the elevator to sit in the second balcony where I had assumed they would place me.  My dad pointed to the ticket in my hand.  “Orchestra seating, nice,” he said sarcastically. 
“Wait, is it really that close?” I asked as I inspected the ticket further. 
“I doubt it,” my dad told me.  “Hey, those are sixty dollar tickets!” he exclaimed.  “Hang on to those you might actually be down there.”  He didn't have to tell me twice!  The sixty dollar tickets were the most expensive at this theater. 
Soon he left me and I eagerly waited for the doors to open.  Once inside I looked for my seat.  I searched for row P and found it to be about in the middle of the room.  I looked for the number 105 and was surprised to see it line up with the center of the stage.  I must have had the best seat in the house!  For twelve dollars!
I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was my first time seeing City Ballet in action.  It didn't raise my expectations that they were a low budget company.  The curtain rose to reveal what I predicted.  A small stage with decent scenery but  kind of unimpressive.  The first performers came out but their parts didn't call for a lot of dancing.  Once the music started building up to the swan queen's entrance my eyes were fixed on the stage in anticipation.  Ariana Samuelsson was Odette that afternoon and when she jumped out from the wings the audience applauded.  I could tell from her first steps that she was a technically strong dancer that hadn't lost touch with her artistic side judging by the way she used her arms and upper body.  I have to say I was impressed with the company as a whole.  The core, who many people consider the real stars in Swan Lake, did their job of keeping together beautifully.  The four cygnets didn't miss a beat in their dance and the three swan soloists performed just as well.  The second act of Swan Lake is my favorite and they did it justice.    
For the black swan pas de deux Janica Smith portrayed Odile who is the exact opposite of Odette.  She amazed me the way she stayed in character while delivering technically difficult steps.  There were only a few small, almost unnoticeable if you aren't a dancer, steps that weren't perfect.  The famous thirty-two fouettes were fast and sharp with the pattern being three singles and one double in two counts for the first sixteen counts.  The last half were speedy singles.  The music wasn't slowed down for this part so she was turning like a top giving you the feeling she intended to make every revolution and anything less wasn't an option.
Of course the men mustn't go without mention.  Gerardo Gil, one of my ballet teachers from APA, danced Siegfried to partner the white swan. John Henry Reid took on Siegfried for the black swan pas de deux.  Both were strong, lifting the girls with ease.  John's turns were solid and his jumps were big.
After intermission the twelve dances for the twelve months were also pleasant to watch, although they didn't bring the same level of excitement. 
Seeing this show makes me excited to audition for their summer intensive.  City Ballet was established in 1993 so they are still fairly new.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for them

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