Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A perfect date

I've been so busy that I haven't had chance to post much recently. In fact, so busy that I forgot to mention the fact that Mr. B had bought us tickets to see Ballo Della Regina and La Sylphide at the Royal Opera House on Thursday. He had some time owing in lieu of all the international travel he's been doing, so he, very generously, chose to spend the day taking me to the ballet. 

We've always enjoyed slightly crazy 'date days' - by which I mean we don't do things by halves. Our first ever date was like 5 dates rolled into 1, and we always push what's possible within the bounds of normal 'dates': driving to the other side of the country on a whim, going out late, late at night to buy ingredients for chicken soup, or just rolling lots of things into one date. So, this wasn't exactly unusual for us; to drive to London and back (a 250 mile round trip), see a ballet, have dinner and head home, but when we're both really busy, these things often go out of the window.

So, Thursday was a perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together, and it really was quality. In fact I think it was my perfect date day.

We left Nottingham late morning, driving via Hemel Hempstead for Mr B to test drive his new car, then parked on the outskirts of London before heading towards covent garden just after lunch. The sun was shining and even though it was midweek, it felt like there were lots of people out enjoying the beautiful weather. Covent Garden, as usual, was full of tourists and street performers and had a lovely buzz. Although both Mr B and I used to live in London, there are some places that don't ever really lose their charm for us and we'll happily spend hours wandering aimlessly around Covent Garden or the South Bank, just chatting and chilling and soaking up the atmosphere. 

We weren't at the theatre until 7.30, so we wandered around the market and some of the little shops around the area. In a little silver shop, Mr B bought be a beautiful new charm for my bracelet: a hebrew 'chai.' Things have been really tough recently, and this was a particularly meaningful charm for me, as it reminds me that's what it's all about: having a life, enjoying each other's company and looking to our future family (hopefully.) I also like the fact that the charm is made up of the Hebrew letters 'Chet' (pronounced 'het') and 'Yud', and my name in Hebrew begins with a Chet, so it's sort of an alphabet charm too. 

After this, we mooched some more before having a leisurely dinner at pizza express. It was so hot we weren't that keen on doing much, but we were able to get into the theatre from just before 6. It was here that we retreated to our favourite secret spot in the West End: the rooftop terrace of the Royal Opera House. It's almost never busy, and we were able to sit and chat whilst looking out over the market - it's like sitting in an Italian Piazza, especially in hot weather.

The View From the ROH terrace
The ballet started at 7.30 and we were lucky enough to have really great seats, only about 20 feet away from the stage. It was Nehemia Kish and Marianella Nuñez in the principle roles of Ballo Della Regina, and, typical of Balanchine, the ballet was beautiful and technically perfect; fast feet and full of humour. I was a little sad that it was only 18 minutes long, as I'd happily have watched the clean lines all evening. It was particularly fascinating sitting so close to the stage, as you could see the differences in the corps much more clearly. They really do range in size - some diminutive and some really quite tall! Plus, in such a technical ballet it's a delight to be able to see the feet, although you do lose the visual effect of the formations of dancers from above. The second of the two ballets was La Sylphide, which befuddled me to begin with. It was mainly character dancing for the first half, and the scene was completely stolen by a small dancer from the Royal Ballet School who plays a very confident little girl in the group dancing scenes. I loved her chutzpah in taking a grown up man's hand and demanding he dance with her. I was fascinated by how perfectly she kept up with the adult dancers around her and suspect that she's one to watch for the future; not just for her technical aptitude, but for her comic timing and characterisation. I couldn't take my eyes off her!
The Paul Hamlyn Hall - the
most beautiful venue in the whole of London!

The final act was very much a ballet blanche, all white romantic tutus and misty forest scenes. It reminded me a lot of Giselle and was completely visually stunning to watch. Whilst at the beginning I wasn't sure what I was going to make of it, I really enjoyed both ballets. Mr B, too, came away from the theatre with a smile on his face, although he was upset that La Sylphide had a sad ending as he said "I wasn't expecting that!" We didn't get home until 1.30am, but buzzed all the way home; which may have been partly the result of the strong coffee we got from pret just before we left central London, or may have been just that we had a perfect day. It really was a day to hold on to regardless of how difficult life gets.