New Things — Ballet

I liked watching The Nutcracker as a child. I have fond memories of the inevitable Christmas Nutcracker viewing, and the equally inevitable days spent dancing around on hardwood floors, pretending to be Clara. I’ve been a little dubious about whether the boys would similarly enjoy it, though; Nathan was not excited about the Gilbert and Sullivan production I tried with him, and in general I think they’re more at a Children’s Theater level.

But I saw an ad for a Nutcracker Tea: a shorter version of the ballet, put on by the Northwest Dance Theatre, with the added incentive of a cookie afterwards. Why not? I thought that Ryan, who was recently entranced by the tap dancing in Happy Feet, might like it.

So last weekend we headed out for a rare mother-and-second-son date. In general I think he liked it a bit, but could have left at intermission without heartache except for the knowledge of missing out on a cookie. (I gave him that option, but he declined.) Let’s just say that he was less than fully engrossed in the show — and, being Ryan, this manifested in commentary.

The shows had nearly been sold out by the time I checked, and I’d gotten tickets up in a corner, which turned out to be a good thing, because it was not easy to get him to keep his voice down, and utterly impossible to keep him from talking at all. I’d explained the story beforehand, so some of his comments were about that: “Oh, he’s broken now. See, he’s missing a piece. Is he broken?” Others were more general: “She’s wearing funny shoes. Why are her shoes so funny?” “I like that guy the best. Her dress is the beautifullest. But the pink one is beautiful too.” “Which one is the main person? Oh, I think it’s her. No, it’s her.” “It’s time to clap now!”

After intermission at least half his comments had to do with when the show was ending. “I think that was the end,” he told me after each of the little individual dances, and at one point timed it just right so that his words dropped into a silence in the pre-recorded music. Eventually I thought to explain the concept of a finale, which helped tone down that commentary, but there were still desperately important things he needed to say about costumes, snow, and his feelings about cookies — which are more complex than you might expect.

“Finally!” he said when the lights came up and it was clearly time to leave; and although I’d been consciously maintaining my enjoyment of sharing this experience with him, some part of me definitely agreed.

He saved a small piece of his cookie to share with Nathan when we got home, and Dave asked him how he’d liked the ballet. “It was great!” he said without looking around, already busy waking his computer up.

Maybe we’ll try again in a decade or so.

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