One of my absolute dreams was always to see in person the dancers of the Royal Ballet perform. Last year for my birthday I was gifted a trip to London to do just that. It was incredible, walking into the Royal Opera House the emotions I felt were indescribable. The history and architecture are beautiful, I was awed but more strongly still I felt anticipation for what as of yet I could not see. Excitement to ascend the stairs to my seat, perch arms rested on the railing and overlook a room, a sacred place where in darkened moments tears are shed, all who attend become one, pulled along by the unstoppable force, captivated by music that reaches inside you as takes hold of your soul, by dances that hypnotize you. No matter if you entered the building full of bravado and reservations as to what lay ahead or with eagerness barely contained, once seated on red velvet cushions, eyes darting, momentarily settling on gilded balcony boxes, darting to intricate patterns decorating every surface, then resting on the heavy concealing curtain guarding the stage. You may try but you will not succeed to find a more tempting sight. Seated in that transformative room surrounded but simultaneously in a quiet enclosure of your own thoughts, you smile. No matter if a fan of the ballet or not it is an overwhelming experience. Live soaring music, dance so close emotions are thrust upon you. Unprepared your body leans into the experience, drawn by something you can’t quiet comprehend. A silent display of vulnerability and honesty. Every single emotion felt during the performance is shown to you without reservation, the story is lived. We sit and live in the story not as spectators but as invited guests. You become part. When intermission is called your eyes refocus, startled you tear your eyes from the stage and are reminded that you are not alone but accompanied by hundreds who in that moment all share the same expression as you. You know sometime incredible is happening, something that cannot be put into words just like the story does not need words, your experience cannot be confined by them.
I left the show that night elated, completely content. I felt tired form the journey I was taken on whilst I sat in my seat but so grateful to have been granted access, to have been allowed see behind those curtains. Every Christmas without fail I watch the Royal Ballets rendition of the Nutcracker on TV. The company holds a special place in my heart and so naturally I follow them on YouTube, always craving more. I cannot recommend this more. The behind the scenes videos are captivating and the insights to be gained only intensify what you already knew from seeing a ballet, that it is something truly special, beyond compare. I was reminded of my experience when I came across the company’s most recent videos today. They tell the tale of the creation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Winters Tale’, the story of the creation of music to transform words to movement and the intention behind the creative process, the meaning behind each gesture. I found the music especially beautiful and the composer Joby Talbot fascinating to listen to. It is really remarkable how someone can hear in music a story only told through words and have that music inspire movements to tell the story without the use of any words at all. I am a great lover of Shakespeare and anytime his work is combined with ballet I am happy but this piece in particular seems something unique. Christopher Wheeldon, the choreographer is an incredible talent who creates passionate pieces that never cease to astound me. I very much hope I will get the opportunity to see this in person, I have a strong and alluring feeling that this work is going to be stunning.
Here Joby Tolbert speaks briefly about the process that was the composition of ‘The Winters Tale’.