Black Swan is bringing ballet back into the forefront of the arts for the masses, but I've been crazy about it for years. It stems from wanting to be a ballerina when I was a tiny little thing, long before I discovered you need to have balance and be graceful. The first ballet I ever say was at the Stanley in Utica, New York; it was a ballet version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and although Shakespeare is based on language, the performance was gorgeous. Here are 7 reasons I love the ballet – although I could easily list two dozen!
1. The Costumes
The costumes in a professional ballet are absolutely breathtaking. It doesn't matter what ballet it is, whether it's Swan Lake (just take a look at what Natalie Portman sported, after all) or The Nutcracker. The costumes are decadent and stylish and gorgeous, and their dramatic factor helps make the show absolutely incredible.
2. The Music
Music is, of course, hugely important in the ballet, and it is as beautiful as you would thus imagine. The music in the ballet for Faust tells the story along with the dancers, so you feel like you are making a Faustian pact yourself. The music for The Sleeping Beauty, from the Lilac Fairy to Puss in Boots to Rose Adagio, makes you think of fairy tales and happy endings. It's soaring and soul searing and amazing.
3. The Decadence
Ballets are decadent performances, on par with the opera. Everything is rich, opulent, and over the top, and once you see one, you understand why and wouldn't ever have it any other way. It's part of the experience, and really, it makes it better. It helps bring you into the story.
4. The Magic
Some of the most famous ballets are based on fairy tales. The Sleeping Beauty is one, Peter Pan has been turned into a phenomenal ballet, Coppelia is all about magic. Just about every ballet has magic somewhere in it, and when you're watching the performance, you feel that magic. It's incredible. That, too, makes you feel like part of the story.
5. The Grace
The grace that goes into every movement, every performance, every little nuance of the ballet is absolutely exquisite. It quite literally steals your breath away – and you gladly give it up, as long as you can keep watching. Those dancers work so hard, and their grace seems ingrained, something they were born with, like their eyes or their noses or their hands.
6. The Passion
Dedication like that takes passion, and talent like that manifests passion. When you see two dancers together, performing opposite each other, you don't doubt that they're crazy about each other and in love with the dance. It just is. It's a fact of life, something you can't possibly doubt.
7. The Choreography
Every ballet is different. Each one is unique. Even if you see the same ballet with a different company, something about the choreography will be changed because each ballerina and danseur seeks to make their parts their own in some way. It makes for a unique and one of a kind experience every time you see a new performance.
I still often wish I could be a ballet dancer. Maybe someday I'll take lessons, even if all I'll ever be is an amateur. Does anyone else out there absolutely love the ballet?
Top Photo Credit: dancer Dallagio