If the ship doesn’t sink, I’m not watching.
by B. Barker
It’s a rare thing in modern art or entertainment to be made to work for your enjoyment. Ballet makes you. To enjoy it you need to appreciate the subtlety of the moves and realise there will be very few moments of eye filling spectacle. You can’t waste the first hour waiting for everyone to form a kaleidoscopic, James Cameroon-style on screen mess, it just ain’t like that.
It takes some adjusting from the noise and speed of modern television, or the stage-breaking quantity of action in musicals, or the massive over arching plot lines of blockbuster t.v where slapstick and world encompassing narratives are the modes of communication. We just aren’t used to having to work for our enjoyment.
It draws comparison better with cricket, subtle and slow paced. It’s a shame to look at ballet as sport, it’s better seen as an art form rather than technical, but it does sit near to all three. Its comparison to sport comes from a need for great athleticism; the competitive elements introduced by the audience response to a well performed move are reminiscent of the ripple of appreciation given to a well timed cover drive. The real comparison though comes from the fact that people who like cricket tend to really like it, and to everyone else it’s the epitome of tedium. Ballet is the same and that’s because neither of them serve their pleasures to you on a plate.
Oh, and talking about James Cameron, right at the end of Le Coursaire, when you’re finally certain that the nuance of ballet is a great step away from the over blown riots that we have come accustomed to in art, theatre, film and books, they spend the last twenty minutes sinking a massive mechanical ship and not dancing at all.