Last Saturday, my friends and I celebrated Posh Day. Posh Day is not an actual English holiday- it’s a day we made up, and it started with The List. My friends Chiara, Amina and I have a list of things that we want to do before we leave London. We’ve done quite a few things on the list already- go to Portabello Market, see Hampstead Heath (we’re going tomorrow to ‘study’ for exams in the sun)- but we still have a couple of things left: to see Chatsworth and visit Jane Austen’s House, to name a few. My number one desire was to see a ballet at the Royal Opera House. We bought our tickets to see the ballet La Bayadère (‘The Temple Dancer’) way back in February, before tickets sold out.
It was a Saturday matinée, so we decided to have breakfast together- not at any old place, but the Delaunay– a European-style café in Aldwych where stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Taylor Swift, and Kirstin Dunst have been spotted. Tim Burton is a regular. And thus, the idea for Posh Day was born. A day of luxury and extravagance– an escape from the reality of student life, if only for a little while.
Our reservation at the Delaunay was at 10 am, and we got there bright and early. The restaurant was all elegance and class.
The prices weren’t too bad, considering. Amina and I had fluffy pancakes (just £7 each), whereas Chiara ordered a basket of warm pastries.
At this point, we were all smiles and elation– and the ballet hadn’t even begun yet! I think it was just such a relief to be out of our tiny rooms and out of the library. As our master’s program is coming to a close, we have so many worries nowadays– doing well on our upcoming exams in May and June, handing in a comprehensive dissertation proposal, writing the dissertation and handing it in at the end of August, applying to jobs, actually getting a job, making enough money to pay student loans. It’s a stressful time now, and I’m so grateful that we had the chance to lay all of those worries on a shelf, get out the dorm, and see a ballet at the Royal Opera House!
La Bayadère is about an Indian temple dancer, Nikiya, who is in love with a noble warrior, Solor. They promise themselves to each other, vowing to love one other eternally. However, the Rajah of India is determined to marry his own daughter, Princess Gamzatti, to Solor. When Solor sees how beautiful the princess is, he is smitten and forgets all about Nikiya. (Men! lol.) Nikiya, overcome with emotion, tries to attack Princess Gamzatti and fails. Princess Gamzatti arranges to have Nikiya killed. Nikiya is bitten by a poisonous snake concealed in a basket of flowers that Princess Gamzatti and the Rajah present to her…
I won’t tell you how the story ends, but the ballet is full of drama, passion, backstabbing, and best of all– sublime dancing! I was in awe throughout the entire performance. Ballet is graceful athleticism. You cannot watch a ballet and not be astounded. In one scene, two male dancers lifted Princess Gamzatti over their heads– holding only her calves! I can only imagine the amount of abdominal and upper-thigh strength it took for Yuhui Choe (the ballerina who played the princess) to keep her body upright. I could easily imagine my knees giving out if somebody tried to hold me like that. She did it with such poise and agility. The scenes with the entire ballet de corps were heavenly- fluid, in unison, and supremely elegant.
My friends and I sat high up in the amphitheatre, the level just above the balcony. We were towards the center, so we saw and heard everything that happened on stage– including the little taps of the pointe shoes when the ballerinas descended from their jumps. What their feet must go through every performance is incredible.
I was amazed, and I know that I will be back at the Royal Opera House again before I leave London. Nothing was so enchanting as when the orchestra began to play before the curtain rose. It was at that moment that I realized, ‘They’re playing…for us!’ I think that in this day and age, we’re so used to entertainment being mass-produced, impersonal–for everyone. When you watch a movie, the stars on the screen aren’t performing for you. Their acting and their movements are in a sense static; meant to remain the same whether you see the film in the movie theatre or watch it on DVD in your home weeks later. But last Saturday’s performance was only for the people in the theatre on that day, at that moment in time. The dance just as the way it was will never be seen again. Neither will the orchestra play their instruments just the same. I think that’s the beauty of a living art.
Posh day was over. But, thankfully, we still have many other things to accomplish on our list.
Do you have a list of things that you’d like to accomplish before the school year’s end? What about before 2013? Comment below!