I went to see a ballet last week. This is something of a hobby of mine – I indulge in a visit every 25 years or so.
I admit it’s never been my favourite form of entertainment. I’m the lowest common denominator personified when it comes to performances.
I like to watch shows that tell me an easy story, that I understand without having to think too much and that preferably have a happy ending.
This means that ballet and its twin of difficulty, opera, are not my first choice when it comes to booking an excursion.
If it’s in a language that I don’t speak, let alone sing, or doesn’t have an uncomplicated storyline, why bother?
But I was seduced by the offer of attending a ballet workshop at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden prior to a performance of The Nutcracker.
I mistakenly thought that I was going to be taking part in the workshop and considered my non-prima stomach with horror. But I was mightily relieved that I was simply watching thin people.
The dancers were, to my eyes, put through the toughest hour of agony, where their bodies performed manoeuvres that were surely outlawed with the Spanish Inquisition.
Honestly, they appeared to turn back to front, but apparently it was just a warm-up to them.
What did make me laugh though was the ragtag apparel of the dancers. Mismatched legwarmers, baggy body warmers that looked like filled nappies, hair in wild bunches, odd jumpers, scraggy old sweat pants.
They looked rather like a collection of stereotypical bag ladies, donning anything and everything for warmth – and so, so cool because of it.
Why do we dress our young children in pink tutus and hair scrapes for the pleasure of dance? That’s what put me off participating all those years ago.
And did I learn from this experience? Actually I did. After seeing the workshop, the ballet on the stage opened up to me, and I really had respect for the difficulty of what the dancers were doing and the story they were telling.
The sets were super, as was the music. And you can’t beat a muscly man in tights.