Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kennedy Center - American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet

I think we can add one more thing to the list of sure things in life. Move over death and taxes, time to make room for snow. Specifically, snowstorms in DC whenever we try and go to the Kennedy Center.

As our most loyal readers may recall, J and I were scheduled to visit the Kennedy Center to see Handel's Messiah on the night of the ESOTC (Epic Snowstorm of the Century - see here), but instead ended up going to Cafe Mozart (see here) and playing Beatles Rock Band (see here). When that performance was canceled, we ended up getting replacement tickets for the American Ballet Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet, and like clockwork, more snow. Thankfully, the 6 inches didn't get in the way of the production.

I have no experience in dance beyond embarrassing home movies, some poor swing moves from the big band revival of the mid-90's, and our wedding dance (which we learned via DVD). However, I'm game to watch anything that is world-class, even if most of the nuance is lost on me. That certainly applies with the ballet.

So was the performance world-class? I'm hardly the person to ask, but after all the hours I've spent with J watching "So You Think You Can Dance," my answer is yes and no. The leads were fantastic. I especially appreciated how lightly and delicately Juliet was portrayed. However, the ensemble cast of 40+ didn't seem up to the Kennedy Center's standards. For an ignorant observer such as myself, the best way to highlight a flaw is to be out of sync. In the case of nearly everyone other than the title characters, this was a major problem and was distracting.

Speaking of distracting, can we talk about the kids behind us? I'm all for bringing your kids to the ballet to expand their cultural horizons. I used to be one of those kids. But the 7:30pm showing of Romeo and Juliet is too late and too mature (3 murders and 2 suicides) for the 3-6 year olds behind us. The ones old enough to "get it" looked shell shocked, and the younger ones needed play by play to keep them engaged. I don't blame the kids, but parents, please choose your cultural outings more carefully. Oh, and take a hint if you get the stink eye from the row in front of you. It generally means that kicking chairs, giggling during death scenes, and demonstrating that you're the next Bob Costas is not ok.

But aside from all that, I enjoyed the evening. It was far more theatrical than I expected and it told the story well. Maybe even too well having that I could have seen more of Romeo and Juliet alone on stage (read: without all the sub-par folks that couldn't spin or kick in unison).

J Says

I know I'm a lucky girl. My husband will go to the ballet with me and I don't even have to drag him. Luckily, we're friends with an awesome couple who shares the same adventurous streak and appreciation for D.C. cultural events.

My sister was a dancer so I've watched a lot of dance shows in my lifetime. Like B said, the ABT principal dancers were outstanding and a joy to watch. The company (and the company's choreography) left a lot to be desired. Dancers were falling out of turns left and right, and when they did complete the turns they were rarely in sync with the dancer next to them. Even with this sloppiness, I really enjoyed the show. It was fast-paced and engaging. Also, the Kennedy Center's Opera House is a gorgeous venue to see a show.

I agree wholeheartedly with B's comments about the parents behind us. I felt sorry for the kids who were asked to sit still for 3 hours way past their bed times. I also felt sorry for my friend A whose seat was kicked by the antsy kids about a million times during the show. Remind me of this when we have kids and want to take them to the ballet or somewhere equally fancy.

I'd happily sashay back to the Kennedy Center to watch another ballet. Or, the next time D.C. is in need of a big snowstorm, just give us tickets for a show. You're guaranteed to get another several inches...

1 comment:

Alix said...

Two words: children's concerts. I know the Kennedy Center has them, because they were listed in the program. But I'm guessing those parents didn't read the program because then they would have known (or been reminded) that (spoiler alert) Juliet kills herself. I'm not a parent, but I don't think that's appropriate for young kids. I would be interested to hear what your readers who are parents have to say ...

I don't think your snow-bringing abilities are limited to Kennedy Center shows ... looks like tickets for dinner and a tournament might do the trick too!