Posts Tagged ‘Swan Lake’

I normally don’t talk about this sort of thing on my blog. You know, because it’s kind of devoted to my writing career and to horror. But honestly, after today, I gotta say something to more than just my family. So strap in, kids. I’m doing a public service announcement veering into rant territory.

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of ballet. I’ve even included it in a few of my stories. And I was very excited to go see my local company perform Swan Lake. It’s their last production of the season, it’s probably the most famous ballet in the world alongside Nutcracker, and it’s a lot of fun to guess what variation of the story the performers will do (there are many depending on the vision of the company). And it was, to my delight, a great show. Except for one little issue…some of the patrons had brought their babies and infants with them to the show.

If I could insert an actual sigh here, I would.

Look, I get it. We all need a little escape from our lives. And except for maybe Nutcracker, most companies will wait several years before performing the same show again, which means you probably only have the opportunity to see this production once. And nobody likes missing out on what they love. And for Nutcracker, I kind of expect small children at that one. It’s a family show with lots of exciting stuff happening onstage to keep their attention.

But seriously, why are you bringing a child that young to a show other than Nutcracker? At five or so, kids start to gain the ability to sit still for movies and shows and be quiet. But younger children, especially babies, aren’t able to do that. Many of them can’t even comprehend what’s going on around them.

Imagine, being in a room where it’s dark, there’s loud music constantly playing, and then there are bursts of house-shaking applause during the show. Any small child will be terrified and cry out!

In fact, many of them were. I counted at least four tots who cried at various times during the show. If not because they were scared, then because they were tired, or fussy, or they’re babies! That’s what they do. As well as gurgle, babble, and make any number of noises. All of which happened during the show and distracted the audience. Several times, the parents had to take their child out of the theater and into the foyer because it wouldn’t calm down or go to sleep.

Feels like a waste of a ticket, if you have to leave the show every twenty minutes because of your kid.

And that brings me to my next point. These tickets cost anywhere between seventy and four hundred dollars (excluding processing fees and whatnot). So you’re putting down several hundred dollars for tickets for these shows, including one for the baby, when your child isn’t able to understand or appreciate the show, and definitely won’t sleep through the whole thing. You might as well spend the money on a babysitter instead. From what I’m told, they’re much more affordable, and you wouldn’t be inconveniencing all the other guests who paid a lot of money to see this show as well.

And if you’re not ready to be separated from your kid, don’t go! You’ll save money, and you won’t have the inconvenience of leaving the show several times, climbing over people in seats that are as packed in as airplane seats.

And while I’m on the subject, this should go for movie theaters as well. Yes, movies are a lot more affordable than plays and ballets, but the concept still applies. Hell, it might even apply more! A lot of films these days include explosions, screaming, guns firing, and so many things that might frighten a small kid in a dark room.

I’ve had to deal with this at more movies than I dare to count. When I saw IT: Chapter Two, some woman in the front row brought her baby. During the first twenty minutes, the kid kept screaming and the people around her kept telling her to leave because it’s IT: Chapter Two! That movie is going to be loud and scary! And when I saw Logan a few years before, a kid was crying on the stairs in the theater because that’s a gory, violent film and he was scared! Took a good twenty minutes for the parents to get up and take the kid outside. I guess they thought he would just stop and take a nap?

Now, I know I’m not a parent. I don’t know how tough it is (though my parents did raise me and three younger sisters, so sometimes I feel like I kind of get it). But I know that young kids, unlike teens and adults, don’t know better about how to act during a movie. They just react. And if your kid isn’t ready for movies and you can’t get a babysitter…well, parenthood is about sacrifice. That’s what I’ve learned from every great parent I’ve ever come across. And sometimes, that sacrifice means waiting a few months for the movie to be available on streaming and Blu-Ray.

Luckily, there’s been some movement to prevent this sort of problem. A lot of movie theaters don’t allow young kids to see R-rated films at all, and won’t let them see PG-13 movies after a certain time. Many of these same theaters also have showings exclusively for families: the lights aren’t out all the way, talking and crying isn’t a big deal, and the film is something the kids can get into. And the majority of Broadway theaters and traveling shows require children be at least five years old, or they won’t let them into the theater. And many ballets can even be streamed these days, believe it or not! Some are even streamed live!

And yes, I might write to the company that runs the theaters to see if anything can be done. I mean, if they enforce Broadway policies for the touring Broadway shows, they might be willing to extend that to other events.

But really, parents of young children need to help out too. As I said above, these small kids can’t help being noisy. They’re not electronic devices you can just switch off. They’re going to react instinctually, and that will disturb audiences. But parents, you can make a choice. You can choose to waste money on something that your baby will disturb for you and everyone else. Or you can keep the kid home, and save everyone, including your kid, from having their night ruined.

And hey, you might still be able to see your show or movie. Like I said, babysitters are a lot more affordable than you might think.

Thanks for reading, folks. This has been something I’ve actually been wanting to write about for ages now, but after the show today, it just kind of came to a head and I had to make my feelings public. And if this changes even a few people’s minds, it’ll be worth it.

Back in December, I posted about how I was collecting dolls, figurines, and statuettes. Since then, I’ve collected quite a few more for my collection, so I thought I’d write another post about the collection and show off my new acquisitions (as well as have another go at giving my parents more grey hairs and making them wonder where they got such an unusual son. What can I say? I am a nasty little devil).

First, let’s talk about those Nightmare Before Christmas pixies. Remember when I said there were about four of them? Well, turns out there’s a lot more than four:

So apparently the line comes with its own little Halloweentown display. I got that not too long after the last doll/figurine-related post.

After that, they sent me Oogie Boogie’s character.

And then Zero the ghost dog.

And I thought that was it, but then they sent me Lock, the kid in the devil costume.

And then they sent me Shock, the witch girl.

And that’s where we are so far. I’m assuming Barrel, who I think is some sort of skeleton kid, is on the way at some point. I’m not really sure how many characters are in this collection, but I’m happy to keep paying for them and seat them in a circle in my apartment.

Also, I recently bought another, very special figurine from The Hamilton Collection, the company that makes those little statues. This is the Guardian of the Underworld.

Yeah, pretty scary. And I’m pretty sure that’s an old Rolls Royce hearse she’s sitting on. I wanted to bring that into work, but my supervisor put the kibosh on that one. Too bad, it would’ve been such a great talking point for anyone who came to visit my office. Then again, given what we do in my office, it might put people off and give them the wrong idea.

Of course, not all my new additions have been from The Hamilton Collection or look like pixies from Hell. Remember in my last post I mentioned that my very first figurine was one I made of the character of Zero from the anime Code Geass? Well, I finally got a real Code Geass Zero figurine!

This was one of my most anticipated acquisitions when I bought it. And it’s so cool! You can change heads and arms depending on whom you want to wear the costume (spoiler alert: different characters in the anime wear that costume at different points), and take on and off the sword around his waist. But I’m telling you, lining the real figurine next to the one I made all those years ago was a big moment for me. It felt like I was showing myself how far I’ve come in life that I can actually collect these things for myself, and I don’t just have to make them.

I’ve also made a few acquisitions that coincide with another love of mine, ballet. The first acquisition of this type is a figure of Asuka Langley Soryu from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion (I already have two figurines of her, as she’s my favorite character, but this one is probably my favorite), dressed up as a ballerina. I absolutely adore this figurine. It looks like she’s about to break out into dance, which would be very cool if it could happen.

I also got two figurines based on Odette and Odile from Swan Lake. I was really psyched to get these, especially since I saw that ballet last November.

These figurines comes with their own individual stands, as well as a shared one for a pas de deux (not something that ever happened in the actual ballet, but whatever). They look so graceful and their eyes are so expressive, I just love it. They’re so wonderful, they gave me an idea for a novella a while back that I’d like to write at some point. They also came with a lithograph of an illustration that I believe inspired these figurines (I think that’s what the figurines are based on), which I hung up not too long ago after finding a picture frame that was the right size, right by where I keep the actual figurines.

My third ballet-related acquisition is a proper doll, a Liccca-chan doll. Licca-chan is like the Japanese equivalent of Barbie, and this one was so up my alley, that I couldn’t help but order it. The arms aren’t as movable as I thought they’d be (so no fifth position posing), but I still like it and I’m glad I bought it.

Of course, not all of my collection is so pretty. You guys know I’m a Lovecraft fan, right? Well, I recently acquired a Cthulhu statue from Chile. I’ve been wanting a statue of Cthulhu for quite some time now, so to finally get one was pretty awesome. I’m actually not really sure what this statue’s made of, to be honest: I bought it off Etsy, and it’s supposed to be made of some sort of clay, but at times it feels like wood, and other times like stone. Which, considering this is a statue of a powerful god in the Cthulhu Mythos, does not surprise me in the slightest. My supervisor may let me keep this one in the office, which I would find cool, but others might freak over. Of course, that’s the intended effect, so let’s hope he says yes.

Also, the store I bought it from included a free Cthulhu keychain because he’d been on a hike when I made the order and didn’t get it until when he came back a week later. I told him that wasn’t necessary, but he included it anyway. Such a nice guy, and I love the craftsmanship. Also, I’m not sure what this is made of either. Fuh-reaky!

And finally, we get to my last and possibly my favorite acquisition, as well as the one most likely to be haunted. This is a Pullip doll, which is a brand of South Korean fashion dolls known their big heads and equally big eyes.  This particular one is from the Alice du Jardin series, so I call her Alice, and she is the “Mint” version. Sometimes I feel like she’s really watching me while I’m writing or watching movies on the couch, and that she’s trying to influence me. If she is, I think she’s trying to influence me in positive ways though. Easing my stress and that sort of thing.

So that’s the latest on my collection. What did you think? (Yes, I’m aware that some people find my collection very weird, but since when have I ever been interested in being “normal?”). I’m personally very proud of it, and hope to add to it over time. I’d especially enjoy getting the entire main cast of Sailor Moon in figurine form, though that’ll have to wait until I get some new cabinets (someone’s letting me have his when he moves out of town). In the meantime, I love what I got, and I don’t ever want to part with them.

Do you collect dolls and figurines? What are your thoughts/suggestions on collecting them?

Last year, I saw my first ballet, Romeo & Juliet, performed live on stage here in Columbus. Since then, I’ve gone to see a production of Swan Lake, watched a video online of Fall River Legend, based on the Lizzie Borden case (no need to guess why I looked up that one), and last night I went with my mother to see Giselle live on stage. And I have to say, after a year of watching/attending performances, I’m pretty much a committed ballet fan.

So if you’re keeping count at home, I’m a Jewish horror writer who’s openly bisexual, who enjoys nerdy things like superhero movies and anime/manga, reads plenty of scary stories, collects dolls and figurines, enjoys Buckeye football, has attended heavy metal concerts and listens to a lot of 80’s music, is on the autism spectrum and advocates for disabilities, knows how to cook and bake and enjoys it, and also enjoys going to the ballet. If there’s a stereotype I fit neatly into, I don’t know what it is!

But back to ballet. How did I get into it? Well besides possibly having a thing for tutus (but come on, who doesn’t?), I’m not sure when my interest in the medium first arose. I think it might’ve been from an episode of Sailor Moon I saw when I was a kid back where the episode revolved around a ballet teacher (Sailor Moon, how many ways do you continue to influence me?). Before that, I’d dismissed ballet as for girls, but after that episode, I started to wonder if there was something to like.

And then of course, the desire to check it out went dormant, because the only filters I had for experiencing ballet were through my sisters and their direct-to-video ballet movies and specials. But I think the desire awoke again in college. I’m not sure what the catalyst was, but by senior year, I wanted to go see a production from BalletMet, Columbus’s premiere ballet company, and ballerinas started appearing in some of my story ideas (one of these days I’ll hopefully write most of those ideas). However, I could only really afford to see a show after I was employed long enough that paying for tickets wouldn’t break my bank account (turns out they’re actually pretty affordable compared to other forms of live entertainment, but I didn’t know that until recently).

Thus last April I saw Romeo & Juliet, and absolutely loved it. The combination of music, acting, costume and choreography to tell a story was beautiful and mesmerizing, and at the end, actually a little heartbreaking. I even had an idea for a ballet a day or two after seeing the show (BalletMet, email me! We’ll make an original production people will love!). It’s no surprise I’ve made a point to see more shows since then. And after watching a few shows, I’ve noticed some interesting things about the medium:

  1. It’s not just an art form, it’s also a sport. Ballet requires feats of the body that are similar to what athletes go through. They train for several hours a day, several days a week; some dancers need to build their upper body strength, especially for lifting other dancers; some leaps and dance moves look right out of a gymnastics or track and field competition; and dancers get some of the same injuries professional sports players get. It’s definitely a lot more involved than just twirling around on a stage and looking pretty, as some people might think.
  2. The stories are often simple. Not to say they’re stupid or without depth, but the stories in ballet are often a lot easier to understand than something like Game of Thrones, which is based a lot in various histories, plots, intrigues, mythologies, etc and would be difficult to convey through dance alone. They’re more often based in love stories or fairy tales, things everyone can get without much difficulty. And that’s good, in my opinion. After all, despite being considered “cultured,” ballet is supposed to be an art form for the masses to enjoy (ironic, given that the form first arose as a way to instruct Italian noble children on how to act in court). It makes sense that the stories would be aimed at the masses, rather than at only a tiny segment.

    The Willis at the end of Giselle last night.

  3. Ballet is a lot like watching a silent film. Because ballet is entirely without dialogue (with a few exceptions, like the first act of Fall River Legend), facial and body language is almost as important as being able to dance. Joy, rage or anguish, it’s important to convey how the character feels in any situation. In that sense, dancers are very much like modern silent film actors (without the make-up that makes them look like serial killers, of course).
  4. Filler moments. This is what I call moments when ballet extends certain scenes with dance routines not necessarily connected to the plot. As I said, ballet is sans dialogue, which would be used to lengthen plays or musicals. So instead they have longer dance sequences that may not be connected to the plot. In Swan Lake, there’s a sequence where Odette and Siegfried are offstage and the other swan dancers do a dance for a few minutes before the protagonists arrive back on stage, for example. It doesn’t really have much to do with the actual conflict of the story, but it’s very well done and extends the ballet so we feel like we got our money’s worth.
    Not that this is just something done to extend the show’s runtime. At times, it makes sense to have these filler moments. For example, Giselle takes place during a fall harvest festival. During the production I saw last night, there were various dance sequences in the first act where only male dancers would dance, then female dancers, then children, then lovers, etc. And this feels like something that would happen during a village harvest festival, various dances that different groups of people would take part in. This makes the illusion of the show feel more real and not just a performance.

    The main characters of Giselle.

    And at other times, filler moments allow for some amazing creativity and storytelling: in Romeo & Juliet, when Juliet is deciding whether or not to take the potion to fake her death, they actually show her struggling with whether or not to go through with her choice, and then is confronted by the ghosts of Petruchio and Tybalt, as if to remind her of what she’ll be apart of if she doesn’t take the potion. That’s not something you’d see in the original stageplay, and is something that could only be born from a performance without dialogue. Similarly, during the second act of Giselle, when we meet the supernatural spirits the Willis, we get some interesting dance moves that intimate to the audience that these are ghosts that act as one on a mission. It is really amazing.

As you can tell, I’ve gotten a lot out of going to the ballet. And with more shows out there to find and watch, I hope I can see them and get even more from them. The creativity, blending of music, dance and storytelling, and the devotion and work put into productions is why ballet has endured for so many years, and why it will continue to endure and evolve over time. And if you get the chance, I highly encourage you to go take in a show. You never know what you may experience.