August 26, 2011

Ballet With A Twist

image It all started with a simple question I asked my friend. “Do you need a gopher?” I knew he was doing a photo shoot earlier in the week. I was not expecting his reply to my inquiry would be a yes. With that simple three letter reply, This week turned out to be a week of first’s for me in my life. I had the opportunity to work a concept photo shoot for fortune 500 company. With that innocuous beginning to my week, I next found myself at the Ballet at Lincoln Center in New York City, on the guest list of one of the performers. This was a second first for me, well actually it was two firsts in one. My first time at the Ballet and my first time attending a performance at Lincoln Center.

The Ballet was unexpected to say the least. I was expecting a bunch of stuffy people with top hats and coat tails with snobby attitudes. Not! This was a relaxed dress down event. The ballet performance was not classical ballet, but Ballet With a Twist. I arrived 30 minutes before the performance was  supposed to start. There was a pre-event social mixer with wine and pleasantries, that I wanted to skip as much of as possible. I guess I had a little trepidation due to my extreme lack about ballet.

As I approached from the North of Lincoln Center my heart began to beat fast, my legs began to grow heavy. My southward journey, 66th street, 65th street, 64th street took what seemed like and eternity but only lasted a 5 minutes. At this point I am canvassing the landscape, frantically looking for familiar faces. As I hope for the comfortable conversation with people i know atleast in passing, if not more familiarly, none is to be found. I begin my approach to the main entrance. The line wraps itself from the door, down and around the block. The movement of the people make it resemble a snake writhing itself along the jungle floor, fat from a fresh kill. At this moment I am glad I am on the guest list. As I approach the security guard with what looks like the guest list in hand I hear angry voices inquiring my they aren’t allowed in when they too are on the guest list. He Stoically replies, “We are at capacity, no one gets in, please step back.” My heart leaps for joy, I can go home and watch TV. Fate plays cruel games at times. As I turn to walk away a woman exits, she is white, tall, elegant and dressed to the nines. I stare, she radiates, she points to me and says “follow me.” “When you are on the performers special invite list, you have to use this entrance”, she says. I reply, “this is my first time at the ballet”, she smiles. We walk around to another entrance, engaging in small talk as the crowd looks on in wonder. I can hear them asking where is he going with her? As we approach the stage entrance the guard shuffles and gets ready to dash my hopes at entrance like he has done so many others this night. My escort merely utters three words, “He’s with me”, and  we enter. She shakes my hand and tells me to proceed down the hallway and to enjoy myself.

Skip ahead 30 minutes and a few awkward conversations with complete strangers and I am about to experience one of the best nights I have had in my life. The show begins with the company performing a piece in the aisles. My sponsor to this event and I lock eyes, she is dancing right next to where I am seated. The shock on her face is priceless. I guess she was just as amazed that I attended as I was. The company, after the ubiquitous pleasantries, performs 12 acts. Each performer does a solo piece showcasing themselves. The entire ballet takes the audience through periods of American life from the wild west up to Sputnik. They perform pieces aptly named after drinks of the era. The first performance entitled “Cocktail Hour” started it all afterwards they rolled through performances named: Temple of Swing, Mai Tai, Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, Martini, Ginlet, Sputnik, Margarita, Brandy Alexander, Manhattan, Scotch on the Rochments and the finale was Holy Water. I enjoyed all of them; the music, the costumes, the performances were all phenomenal. But what do I know, it was my first time at the ballet. The last piece was the clincher for me. It was entitled Holy Water. The company performed to an upbeat tempo rendition of select psalms from the bible. This final act was about the life of Jesus from his birth to death. The troupe performed exquisitely and the crowd reacted with standing ovations, cheers, and clapping in unison with the beat. The performers, basking in the crowds glee, seemed to glow. All their fears melted away and they began to revel at the audiences delight. The movements seemed to draw in the audience and we became part of the act. I felt transported into the past actually witnessing the events being played out before me. When The act ended, I was left breathless.

The crowd begins to dissipate and I wander around to the dressing and changing area. I spot my friend, we hug and she says “Now you know what I do. How did you enjoy the performance?” I merely replied, “I am now a fan of the Ballet.” So I have invites to all her performances. She introduces me to her mother, father and I chit chat with her boyfriend for a few minutes. I take my leave of them and exit Lincoln Center. I wander over to Columbus Circle and just sit and take in the evening. This was another first for me. I had walked past this place hundreds, if not thousands of times but never took the time to sit and enjoy it. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening out.


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