Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shanghai Ballet - Butterfly Lovers

I was wandering through TDF the other day, looking for something inexpensive for this week's entertainment.  I'm seeing a show Saturday night, but I wanted something else to fill in my week.  Under the dance tab, I saw a listing for the Shanghai Ballet, performing in Tribeca.  The ticket was only $12, so I thought 'ding, ding, a winner'!  Last night was the performance.

Before I get to the ballet, I'll mention that I spent 90 minutes yesterday waiting in one of my doctor's waiting rooms, just for a ten minute check-up.  Grrrr.  To reward myself, I went to Artisinal for a glass of wine and a snack before the ballet.  Ordinarily, I don't eat before I see a show, but since I had skipped lunch and since I had been sitting in a waiting room for over 90 minutes, I figured rules were made to be broken.

The staff at Artisinal is charming - the host took very good care of me and my server was also lovely.  She gave me a wonderful wine recommendation to go with my appetizer portion of pumpkin gnocchi.  I enjoyed the wine, a very nice graves reserve from Bordeaux, immensely, and it did pair beautifully with the gnocchi.  Though I didn't get an overwhelming pumpkin flavor from the gnocchi, which was a tad disappointing.  They were delicious, don't get me wrong, just not very pumpkin-y.  I will definitely have to go back to Artisinal, though.  The wine list is amazing and they have a lot more dishes on the menu I'd like to try. 

After my brief snack stop, I headed downtown to the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, which is basically a college auditorium.  OK, whatever.  But the lack of sets and lack of complete lighting instrumentation definitely had an impact on the production.  When the dancers were towards the back of the stage, they were in complete darkness, and a different colored backdrop would've helped me with some plot points during the dance.

I read the synopsis before the ballet started - it's pretty simple.  But I think the synopsis is for a full-version done in their own theater.  Some of the descriptions just didn't match what I was seeing in this smaller touring house.  And there was one scene that completely confused me.  I wouldn't think there would be a homosexual element to a ballet based on a Chinese folk tale, but I'm pretty sure we had a romantic pas de deux between two men...

Athough I wish the music had been played live, the recording and sound design was quite good, so I enjoyed the music very much.  The dancing was very lovely throughout (these photos are from the internet and the Shanghai Ballet website (with lovely backdrops and lighting, which were not used last night - my standard disclaimer applies), most especially by the men.  Then again, their choreography was much more interesting.  But it was amazing to me how buoyant all of the men were - they had amazing lift in all of their jumps, even when done by a dancer in the ensemble.  The most exciting dancing of the evening was done by the male ensemble when they were 'attacking' the romantic lead.

The ladies were all beautiful, as well, especially the butterflies.  Their upper bodies were exquisite.  And the lead gal was gorgeous, especially in her solo at the end - I wish that she had had more solo dancing earlier in the evening.

All in all, I enjoyed myself a great deal watching the Shanghai Ballet.  I don't know that I'd go back to the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, though.  It's way the heck out of the way for me, and the ushers were completely overzealous.  I mean, I'm happy they were keeping the videotaping and photo taking under control, but they scared the crap out of me when they would run by to stop someone else.  It was hard to stay in the moment of the ballet with ushers running around the house, shining their light in the offenders' faces.  Yay for stopping the cameras, but boo for scaring the crap out of me.  : )

I think I'll lay low until Saturday's show.  Though I am starting to think about what I might try to see over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend...

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