Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Norfolk: Part V....SWAN LAKE!
Above: Mathias as Benno....curtain call! Just imagine the roaring applause! It was long and loud! Click on any image to enlarge...even though none are particularly great!)
(Above: The swans, bowing after the performance. Laura-Jane is in the second row, third from the left. Click on image to see her!)
The entire reason why we went to Norfolk was to attend (BRB) Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of Swan Lake, part of the Virginia Arts Festival. Since the ballet company performed it last year, we knew that Mathias had a chance to dance the principal part, Benno, friend to Prince Siegfried. He'd danced it last year. Steve and I both went (at separate venues) to see it.
As soon as tickets were available over the festival's website, we purchased four seats to all three shows. We crossed our fingers and toes....hoping for "good casting"....praying that my parents would get to see Mathias dance in tights (as opposed to heeled boots in the several "character" roles in which he is also cast.)
Well, we knew even before we left that Mathias was only appearing as Benno in the "children's program", an educational show of just Act III, a show to which tickets weren't available. Benno's "big part" isn't even in Act III. We were disappointed but still very, very happy to be going to Norfolk. After all, Sunday was Mother's Day and Mathias' twenty-second birthday. I hadn't spent time with him on either occasion since he was twelve. After that, he went to the Kirov Academy in DC and then on to live and dance in England.
Well, on Thursday night Steve and I were to meet Mathias and his girlfriend Laura-Jane in their hotel lobby. Two of the other dancers recognized us and congratulated us that Mathias "would be dancing more than planned". We were hopeful that this meant he'd be one of the four men that dance with beautifully clad ladies in Act I. (There's a video which I've shared in the post just above this that includes this part.) Mathias only confirmed that he'd "be dancing more than the character parts". That was all he said. He said it was "a surprise".
There was no announcement of a casting change on opening night. So, that Friday, as the curtain rose, we were very hopeful to see Mathias as one of the four gentlemen......but.....he came running onto the stage.....the first one to appear......BENNO! We all gasped and then my mom and I cried our way through a terrific first act watching him perfectly land his double air-tours (spelling? I have no idea....it's basically jumping up while completing two rotations before landing in the exact same position....impossible, if you ask me!)
Now....look at that video....I have no idea when it was taken....but Mathias is in it....Benno! The entire performance was great. The audience loved everything about it too. I'm unaccustomed to snapping photos in a theater....but flash bulbs sparkled during the standing ovation and curtain calls, so I took my camera out too! Though the images are the greatest, the memory they trigger is THE BEST!
Steve and I attended the Saturday night performance and enjoyed that cast too. The new mayor of Birmingham, England and his wife sat just a few rows in front of us. On Steve's right sat Christopher Barron, BRB's Chief Executive. Beyond him was artistic director David Bintley. This made us a little nervous. (I've actually never spoken to the artistic director....sort of scared to try. He's an immensely talented choreographer and obviously a great ballet leader.....and I LOVE his Cyrano best of all....should be the next production brought to the USA!)
Unfortunately, Mathias' appearance on Friday night was the result of another dancer's injury. Although thrilled to have witnessed Mathias in the part, we are quite sad by this news and hoping for a very, very speedy recovery. The other dancer was scheduled to perform on Sunday too....so....Mathias also danced in this final BRB show in Norfolk. He was wonderful again. We cried again too! It was Mother's Day, his twenty-second birthday, and he was dancing Benno! What could be better!
In the lobby that Sunday afternoon, we bumped into two BRB Friends. The "friends" are an amazing group that follow the company, see as many performances as possible, contribute financially to the company, are invited to attend company classes and specially arranged interviews with staff and dancers, and contribute regularly to Internet sites like the BRB page on Balletco.uk. The two sisters have already written an amazing recap of their trip to Virginia HERE with wonderfully glowing reviews of Mathias' dancing. (THANK YOU!)
We are always thrilled to see our son and his girlfriend Laura-Jane perform, but the "friends" are especially important. They are thrilled and attend regularly even though they aren't there for a special family member. It is a very happy feeling knowing that "someone" who really cares is watching my son dance. I wouldn't have made it through Mathias' first year in England if it hadn't been for the "friends" posting on every show.
After Friday night's "surprise" performance, we celebrated in my parents' room at the Residence Inn. Laura-Jane had slipped and hurt her foot. We had it on ice but otherwise we were all smiles!
After Sunday's matinee performance, we all went to a great Brazilian restaurant. We ate too much. We drank too much. Yet, we had lots to celebrate....a birthday, Mother's Day, and a fantastic weekend of fabulous dancing!