Sunday, March 28, 2010

Part Of Your World . . .

It's time to check another item off the proverbial list of "Things I've Always Wanted To Do!"

This weekend I attended the ballet.

In order to get the full appreciation for this story we must travel back in time twenty years to April 1990.

I have no shame in admitting that for my sixteenth birthday celebration I chose to go see The Little Mermaid. This fantastic musical launched the rebirth of Disney animation. Not only that, but in the movie, Ariel also celebrated her sixteenth birthday.

Fast forward twenty years to March 2010. My friend Shamoli and I are driving past the War Memorial Opera house and I ask, "Hey would you ever be interested in going to the ballet?"

Shamoli said, "Yes."

I said, "Great, I will ask if any of our other friends want to go and then we can pick a date."

Later that week I was standing on the corner waiting for a bus when I saw a sign that said the San Francisco Ballet was going to be doing a production of The Little Mermaid.

Shut up!

This is perfect, because frankly I was a little concerned that I might find the ballet boring. At least I like The Little Mermaid, so this should hold my attention.

I went to the Ballet's web site to find out when the show would be playing.

This Little Mermaid came with a warning: "Please Note: This critically acclaimed production focuses on the deeper, mature themes of the original story and is not recommended for younger children." Interesting!

I sent out feelers to the rest of my friends who responded lukewarm to no interest at all.

Come on! It's The Little Mermaid...and the DEEPER more Mature Little Mermaid.

No takers.

In the end it was just Shamoli and I who would be re-creating my sixteenth birthday celebration.

So the ballet starts...

and there is this random Charlie Chaplin like guy standing on a boat doing something to a wall.


Then there is a wedding reception.

Then the random Charlie Chaplin like guy falls into the ocean.

Suddenly Charlie Chaplin like guy is dancing with mermaids.

Have you ever seen a production of Cirque Du Soleil? There is the random clown character that meanders in and out of the show. Well that was kind of what the Charlie Chaplin like guy reminded me of.

So an hour and fifteen minutes later we finally reach the intermission and by this point I am thoroughly confused.

Ursula the Sea Witch is not Ursula and SHE is a HE!

In order to help myself try and understand what is going on I decide to start assigning Disney Little Mermaid character names to the ballerinas.

Dudes who are dressed in all black and help The Little Mermaid shall now be known as Flotsam and Jetsam.

Random Charlie Chaplin like guy...I shall call you Sebastian/Scuttle/Flounder.

Captain/ are Eric.

School Girl/ are Vanessa.

I turn to Shamoli and say, "If I had not seen The Little Mermaid movie, I would have no idea what is going on right now."

I use the intermission to actually read the program description of the story.

This is pretty dark and twisty.

So the random Charlie Chaplin guy is actually a character named The Poet.

The Poet is in love with his dear friend Edvard who got married at the beginning of the ballet.

The Poet is so heartbroken over the separation he must now face from Edvard that a tear rolls off his face and lands in the ocean. The Poet, now at the bottom of the sea creates The Little Mermaid as a symbol of his longing for Edvard.

Really? Because I didn't pick up on any of that.

It gets better.

Then a boat passes over head and the captain of the boat is a prince who happens to look exactly like Edvard but is not Edvard. Fake Edvard is playing golf on the boat deck and hits a ball into the ocean. Diving into the ocean after his ball he is in the presence of The Little Mermaid but can't really see her.

Funny, because it looked like he could see her to me with the way they were dancing, I mean swimming together.

Then the male sea witch comes and there is a bad storm. The Little Mermaid saves Fake Edvard's life. Fake Edvard is awoken on land by a Princess who happens to look exactly like the woman that the Real Edvard married.

And the story just gets crazier and crazier until we reach Fake Edvard and Fake Woman Who Looks Like Real Edvard's wife's wedding day. Get this, The Little Mermaid is a bridesmaid in the wedding. Now that is just mean.

In the end Fake Edvard and Fake Woman depart for their wedding night and now The Little Mermaid is alone and longing for Fake Edvard just like The Poet longed for Real Edvard.

Wait for it...

So Creator (The Poet) and Creation (The Little Mermaid) become one and they search for a new world and end up living in the sea of stars in the sky!

Yes, that's right, The Little Mermaid is now in outer space!

This ballet was originally produced in Denmark and I think they may have been smoking something when they were writing it.

The only way I can describe it is The Little Mermaid meets A Clockwork Orange.

If I remove all the craziness, the dancing was beautiful. I especially liked how they would make The Little Mermaid look like she was swimming.

Here is a brief clip of The Wedding Scene in the Prince's Palace.


  1. Too funny. I'm glad when I saw "Beauty and the Beast" in LA it was the same story as the movie. Ballets sound confusing!

  2. So one of the managers i work with brought a whole new light onto this ballet...apparently i am the one who is culture-less. And the guys sitting next to us who appreciated the mismatched costumes? well, it was for a reason as well...
    so i thought maybe i just don't appreciate ballets. but that may not be true! apparently, i am someone who might apprecaite classical ballet more than contemporary. hm...Romeo and Juliet in May 2010? Jon, are you in :)

  3. I have two things to say: 1. Natasha will be so proud. And, 2. If you hit a golf ball into a water hazard let it go.


  4. Hi Jon,
    I am a dance writer and I 'just' want to let you know I have included your 'Mermaid' post in my recent 'SFB's 2011 Mermaid Preview' post on my web site:
    The actual post your link appears in is here:
    You'll probably be getting some traffic from some serious balletomanes who will be most amused.
    Teri McCollum
    'Odette's Ordeal-A Site for Sore Swans & Serious Ballet Fans in San Francisco'

  5. Hi Jon,
    I'm a dancer writer who 'just' wants to let you know that I have included your 'Mermaid' post in my 'SFB's 2011 Mermaid Preview' post on my web site, 'Odette's Ordeal'. The post you appear in is here:
    You will probably be getting some traffic from some very amused balletomanes!
    Teri McCollum
    'Odette's Ordeal-A Site for Sore Swans & Serious Ballet Fans in San Francisco'