Fourteen years ago, I went up to the Bay Area to visit my mom. We shopped and we lunched and one night we went into San Francisco to see the San Francisco Ballet perform Romeo and Juliet. Now, I was sure that I didn’t care for the romantic ballets (the full-length story ballets from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century) but that night changed my mind (it turns out that I really just don’t enjoy The Sleeping Beauty but that is a story for another day).
The production of Romeo and Juliet that we saw was enchanting. The performance was beautiful and moving. The music by Prokofiev is everything, it would have salvaged the evening if the rest of the production had fallen short but the sets and the costumes enhanced the plot and the dancing was very good. In particular, Tina LeBlanc was an exquisite Juliet – technically excellent and emotionally expressive, she was truly a great ballerina. After how many years, I still can feel what that performance did for me.
Now, mom is clever and generous and she came up with a brilliant scheme to get me to visit more regularly – season tickets to the San Francisco ballet! It has become a great tradition for my mom, my sister and me. While I love dissecting the performances with them on the drive home, this is an area where I really have a lot to say. So Wednesdays will be dedicated to “Arts & Entertainment.”
Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t fancy myself a dance critic. I generally find dance criticism (and most arts criticism) unhelpful to say the least. It makes me crazy to read a review of something by someone who feels entitled to impose their personal biases and expectations on a work rather than at least attempting to intelligently describe a work and evaluate it on its own merit.
I like to be open to different experiences and try appreciate things for what they are. That doesn’t mean that I like it all or always think that a work is well executed. I won’t hold back when I think that elements of a production aren’t up to par but hopefully I will be able to explain my opinion within the context of the form. I mean, making time to enjoy these things is a luxury, we shouldn’t waste it on something that isn’t the best it can be.
If theatrical dance isn’t your thing, don’t tune out quite yet! Ballet season doesn’t even start until January! I will use Wednesdays to consider all sorts of things – country music, rock concerts, television, books, and probably the occasional motor-sports event. Have you been to Speedway? Don’t make that face, it’s a fun time too!