Sarah McIntyre (jabberworks) wrote,
Sarah McIntyre

ballet doodles and gershwin

Last night I took my little sketchbook off to the Royal Albert Hall. My friend Ros McIntosh, who plays first violin for the Orchestra of the English National Ballet, gave me her comp ticket for the dress rehearsal of Strictly Gershwin, which opens tonight. I made a few doodles in the dark, hardly looking, but just trying to get a sense of the movement. I kind of like their abstract look.

The dancers are almost always moving, so there's no chance to draw them in any detail, but you can still get some idea of how they look. I'm always fascinated by the shape of the tops of their feet, how very far they curve around and bulge outward.

It was fun going to a rehearsal; they replayed the start of the overture three times; a disembodied voice gave directions to the dancers and singers about which directions to bow at the end of each piece, and the whole troupe came out at the end (as you can see here) to hash over how the performance had gone.

I enjoyed it hugely. I'm sitting here blogging to An American in Paris, and I loved the combination of ballet and the sort of big dance stuff I'd associate with early shows at Radio City Music Hall. There were two hugely energetic tap dancing guys who kept us all amused, a conductor who kept breaking out into his own little dance moves, dancers on point and dancers in strappy dance sandals, big sparkly '30s style dresses, and people rushing about on bicycles, roller skates and pushing prams. (I've never before seen someone push a pram while wearing toe shoes.)

Here's a very rough sketch of the lead singer, Maria Friedman.

When I first arrived, I was a bit fascinated by the way the dust motes moved around in the spotlights in the upper tiers of the hall.

I sketched it, but I don't think I really captured the effect.

Here's lovely Ros, who rehearsed nine hours the day before, several hours on the day, and who was rather tired when I met her at the stage door after the performance. Here we are outside the hall, just after grabbing a quick tea between practice and the dress rehearsal. Thanks for inviting me, Ros!

Here are a couple ballet photos I found recently at my parents house. My mother used to despair at me running around the house and banging into things all the time and thought I'd learn some gracefulness if she enrolled me in ballet. ('Stop breenging about!' my dad used to say. I just looked it up and discovered breenge is a Scottish word, which is probably why my friends' parents didn't say it.) I still remember thinking this teacher was the perfect vision of loveliness.

I was terrible at ballet and dropped out, but that pink tutu stayed in the costume box for and got used for every sort of prop you can imagine. I'm the tall one (surprise, surprise).


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