Saturday, March 27, 2010

Little Mermaid Ballet

On Tuesday night, I was able to go to the second ballet of my SF ballet season tickets (I missed one show while I was in Japan but I'm so happy that my dear friend Nicole was able to use the ticket!!!) of "The Little Mermaid" with Dyan, Katie, and Maren. I am very familiar with the Hans Christen Anderson version from a fairly young age due to its version on Fairy Tale Theater by Shelly Duvall (a great series that deserves another post entirely) AND I was lucky enough to be able to see the actual Little Mermaid statue that is out in the waters of Copenhagen. BUT, I do have to say that I am glad that Disney changed the story almost entirely because the overall fairy tale is super dark and depressing and I feel that while we all have challenges in life, everything will eventually end on a happy note and not just be "sea foam." Even though I am very familiar with the story, I was STILL confused for the first part of the ballet because they added in this random character called "The Poet." My friend Maren wrote a great blog post about her perspective on the ballet, as well as a great photo of us that I am going to borrow and place on here :-) (Thanks Maren!!)

Before reading the synopsis at intermission, in my mind, the Poet was actually the ghost of the sailor looking back on the whole experience and seeing just how the Little Mermaid felt and some of her anguish from the situation. She was desperately in love with him and he cared for her, but not necessarily in the same romantic way that he felt for the princess. I thought that the ballet cast did an excellent job of showing this dynamic as I think that many of us, including myself, have deeply cared for someone who has not returned similar feelings. The anguish that the Little Mermaid felt was adequately portrayed in her dancing. She was so graceful while underwater and then managed to be so awkward while on land is a real testament to her skills. That being said, it was super distracting when she was only in a leotard with no tutu or skit/bottom because she is WAY too thin- like it was painful for me to watch her.

My favorite part was the first act where they were underwater. The way that they were dancing and moving their bodies completely gave the appearance of interacting with water. Its a good thing that William wasn't there or he would not have been able to have gotten past the fact that the mermen were wearing skirt/dresses. I did think it was a little odd, especially when the girls were wearing pants, but it still looked good so I was ok with it. What I was NOT okay with was the three guys dressed in black who were "carrying" around the Little Mermaid so that she would look like she was "swimming." It was a huge FAIL for me- more distracting than believable and I actually thought that her movements with just the super long pants or soaring through the air with one guy was enough. What would have been better was if they had suspended the Little Mermaid in some kind of harness while she floated and danced around stage. That would have been a better effect. I loved the staging of the play and how they replicated the sea, the boat, the land, and her trapped all white room.

My friend Katie was totally right was she said that the male Sea Witch looked like Darth Maul- because HE DID! He had the exactly same white bald head with red and black markings along the side of it. I have no idea why they decided to characterize him like that but I had a smile on my face every time he came on stage because he just looked like Darth Maul.

All in all, it was an okay performance. It wasn't my all time favorite but it also wasn't the worst ballet that I had ever seen. It was definitely unique and I am glad that I saw it but probably wouldn't see it again.