More than a Dance
This blog post was written by Ha Min Ko, who is currently abroad on the BRIC Program…
What comes to your mind when you think of ballet? If you are like me, you think of little girls wearing tutus dancing on their tip toes, occasionally tripping because they are trying to perform moves that should not be humanly possible.
I never thought to myself that I would enjoy watching a ballet performance but that changed when I got to see a performance of Sleeping Beauty at the Mikhailovsky Theater in Saint Petersburg. If anyone can convince a ballet-hater to see the beauty of ballet, it is the Russians.
Sleeping beauty is a story most people know – a prince comes along to wake up a sleeping princess with a kiss and they live happily ever after. Hardly something you’d think could be expressed as a 3-hour long story, much less through dancing! But when you’re a genius like the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, anything is possible. Along with Marius Petipa, he transformed the fairy tale in a three act performance, a story told solely through music and dance.
The story was simple but elegant. Striking, even. The mood in the crowd shifted from delight to gasps when the villain, Carabosse, appears and curses the princess to death. The crowd was on the prince’s side when he worked with the Lilac fairy to fight against Carabosse and the final wedding scene – breathtaking.
When the show was over, the entire crowd was cheering and applauding. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced any other show or experience that got a longer applause than the one the crowd gave here. At one point I thought it would never end but can you blame the crowd when they just witnessed an authentic Russian ballet performance?
If I had to describe the performance in one word, it would be “graceful.” Dozens of dancers were leaping back and forth, spinning and flowing in ways you never thought human beings could move in. They made it look so easy; but I’m sure if I tried to move like them I would fall on my face. I couldn’t even begin to image the amount of hard work, effort, and dedication these dancers put into their craft.
There were a couple interesting things in the audience as well. The Babson BRIC 2016 students were dressed in our fanciest clothes, as it was traditionally done. Yet there were some people dressed in just a t-shirt and jeans. Also, there were a lot of children. Fun fact: according to Professor Coyle, Russians take their kids to a Russian ballet the way Americans take their kids to a baseball game.
Ballets are not just little girls dancing in tutus, it is a performance art. If you are ever in Russia, you should definitely go watch a ballet performance! It is an experience like no other and you may find a new appreciation for Russian culture like myself!