Sunday, October 29, 2006

Columbia City Ballet: Frankenstein

After returning from Aiken, Alex spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon creating his Halloween costume for the contest held annually by Columbia City Ballet. He wanted me to buy a banana suit for him so that he could call himself “Eat Me”. Of course I refused. So, he decided to attend as “MySpace”. With spray adhesive and foam-core, he was ready in no time.

Steve dropped him off at the Koger Center for the ballet, Frankenstein. Alex has a season ticket but Steve and I opted out of this production. We knew it would be bad. We both remember the first time the company tried this storyline. Alex, however, was quite excited. He knew it would be terrible too, but he was going with the right frame of mind. He was going to be entertained, to laugh, to participate in the Halloween contest, and to have a good time. He wasn’t disappointed.

He managed to get his seat assigned to the handicapped area in order to sit with John Whitehead, executive director of Columbia Music Festival Association. After intermission, Shih-Huai (Kirov Academy grad now dancing with Columbia Classical Ballet) joined them. Shih-Huai asked, in his heavy Asian accent, “Dey Club Dance?” John and Alex nearly rolled out of their seats. Of course they did, with strobe lights and discotheque styled Deejay music!

Alex gave us his review between bouts of laughter when he returned home. He said that the corps actually danced and that there were a few moments of partnering. Then he demonstrated much of the rest of the performance. He did the “robot” and some gyrations typical of go-go girls using a pole. He said Barry Sparks had to have had a great time on the light-board and that this helped deflect attention from the movements.

Evidently, the production started with an overly long childbirth scene in which screaming was featured and then the Baroness von Frankenstein died. The ending was as lame. Words were used: “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!” Alex said that it was one laugh after the other. A USC dancer left at intermission muttering something to the effect that "William had sunk to a new low".

John and Alex knew Tommy Blue, playing the role of the Monster, from his days at Governor School. They enjoyed Willie Moore’s controlled dancing. They had a very, very good time.

Then Alex announced that the best part of the evening was winning second place in the contest. He said that only a few people were in attendance and fewer came in costume. He had been afraid he’d win by default. But, in typical “Columbia” fashion, the top prize went to a Wal-Mart garb. He was elated with second: four tickets to Nutcracker and a Frankstein T-shirt that he really liked. He can hardly wait to take Steve, John, his girlfriend Erica, and I to another Columbia City Ballet extravaganza!

I had to wonder about some of the new names appearing in the program. Years ago, even before Mathias started ballet, I recognized that many of the patrons’ names matched the young members’ and the student dancers’ names. I wondered what some of these people thought about their expenses for lessons and pointe shoes ending up in such a performance. I didn’t wonder for long.

No matter what one might thing of this show, the performers were all living their dreams. They were all in a professional production. Backing the company allowed these dancers the opportunities to be on stage. Sure, this wasn’t the quality of Birmingham Royal Ballet or any of the other “big” companies gracing the world’s stages. Yet, this is a company; they produce dance; the members are living their dreams. Thank goodness there are people willing to contribute. Alex had a blast! That has to count for something good!

No comments: