Clueless at the ballet

The main musical score was the same as that in the Old Spice ad when we were growing up. You know, the cool one with the guy surfboarding, went like this “tan-tan-tan-tan, taan-taan-tada.” If you were born in the ’70s in India you’ll probably know what I’m talking about.

That was the extent of our cultural clued-in-ness before we went for the Pacific Northwest ballet this weekend in Seattle: it shared music with an eighties’ commercial. Our other conversations revolved around Fraiser’s appreciation of ballet, a conversation on Seinfeld where George’s parents categorize him as being gay for going to the ballet, … you get the picture – we weren’t exactly cultural connoisseurs. We also knew that this was kind of a ladida affair. Which meant that the husband had to air out his tweed jacket to make sure we didn’t smell like mothballs and masalas.

The five of us sashayed up the steps of Seattle’s McCaw hall along with the rest dressed like it was prom night for those with bifocals. The only difference perhaps was that we were in star-struck desi mode, taking pictures of ourselves as we made our way up.

The lights dimmed and men in skirts took center stage. Fifteen minutes later, the lights came back on for the interval and it took all of three minutes for us to collapse into giggles. Husband dear reverted to logic: so we have to find out why exactly people come to the ballet, said he. Then there was Ritu who wanted to know if any of us got the story. Sam meanwhile stoically defended the graceful movements while I marched up to the slightly startled doorman.

“Excuse me, this is our first time at the ballet. Is there some kind of a story behind this?”

He handed me the brochure and said “Page 25.”

So while the rest of the Seattlites sipped wine during the interval, five desis (four of whom work in high-tech) pored over a ballet book attempting to make sense of it all.

And we did. At the end of a 60-minute performance I was transported to a medieval world through Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” composed in 1937. With every scene change, I applied my mind to the symbolism and allegories, tried to draw some empirical truths from the performance and allowed the music (re: Old Spice ad) to capture me. Overall, it took some effort – that’s what years of unfiltered, unfettered pop-culture does to one’s soul I suppose.

At the end of the night I felt kind of elevated, not just part of the thronging masses who subsist on Grey’s Anatomy and Chinese take out. That lasted till I read this review about the performance:

“Although the cantata is disdained by connoisseurs for its easy popularity, the public adores the piece without reservation.”

Easy popularity?

Adore without reservation?
Oh well. I guess it takes more than one ballet to ratchet up some snob points.
This entry was posted in Fun.


  1. Mallika says:

    Im not remembering the old spice ad! But sounds like a fun experience. I can imagine id be fairly bored at a ballet inspite of my love for most dance related activities.

  2. Miss Shrina says:

    Oh I love the ballet! I was in ballet shows growing up. Rodney and I have enjoyed a few shows together. I was in the nutcracker and CATS! I am hoping to catch Tchaivosky’s (sp?) Swan Lake this year with OBT! I love swan lake ’cause it’s the essence of classical ballet and old Russia! I also enjoy Michael Flately’s Lord of the Dance show. Rodney LOVED it! If they did a US tour again I would do anything to see it. I was exposed to ballet, tap, jazz early on and developed the love of performing arts early on!

  3. mcs says:

    Susan, we are Sam’s (& Ritu & Sid’s) friends from Seattle. Ritu pointed me to your blog about the ballet. Quite funny! My earliest memory of a ballet was of Swan Lake back in the 80’s when the troupe was in New Delhi. Good that I saw it on TV (non-HD for small mercies) & not live. After watching the body-suit men do their thing, I realized that ballet was not going to my thing! Now, if you see me around a ballet theater, it’s cause I might be scalping tickets, to the connoisseurs 🙂
    P.S.: I enjoyed your other blogs too. Very well written.

Leave a Reply