Philistine: A smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values.
Being an artist (a writer and a when-I-have-time-which-is-almost-never painter), I wish I could say that I had swooned and had nearly died from ecstasy because I been so enthralled by the ballet—but the truth is, I am a semi-philistine. I was somewhat unmoved by the performance. The last time I watched a ballet was when I was twelve. So when I watched Swan Lake on Wednesday night at the Four Seasons Centre I didn’t know what to expect—but was super excited, nevertheless. I watched performances like the Phantom of the Opera and was expecting something like that where I would be watching with wide-eyes and a gaping-mouth. But instead I oooh-ed and awww-ed and drowsed a bit. I found it so odd that the ballerinas didn’t talk. I couldn’t get myself used to that. I was so focused on the plot that I found myself somewhat disappointed. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be wow-ed by.
However, I blame my initial reaction to the performance on the panic attack I was going through. The moment I sat down, and the lights began to dim, I suddenly realized I had to go to the washroom. I kept watching the ballet, waiting for the intermission, and getting annoyed as the ballerinas continued to prance around the stage. It was only AFTER I went to the washroom that I was able to appreciate the ballet a bit more. Rather than focusing on the plot explicitly, I tried to read the emotions in their movement, and in the music. It was then that the story came alive to me—somewhat. And by the end, as Odette mourned over the death of her beloved, tears burned in my eyes and my heart felt strangled.
I think I’ll be able to appreciate Swan Lake a bit more if I watch it a second time, maybe next year. One cannot watch a ballet while expecting it to be like a play. Expectations must be restructured. But still. There is something haunting about Swan Lake that sends a tremble through you now and then. It bewitches the unconscious. Each time I listen to classical music, there are ballerinas dancing in my head.
I’ve wanted to watch Swan Lake ever since I watched BILLY ELLIOT as a kid. I looked like the dad (the bald gentleman) in the scene below each time the dark, ominous, heart-wrenching theme was played (op.20 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). Turn up your speakers when watching!!!:
This was one of my favourite scenes in the performance:
And because I watched the clip below before watching the actual performance, I had to cover my mouth to muffle my laughter: