01 December, 2010
I just bought tickets to see Swan Lake with my daughter over the holiday season. It is one of my favourite classical ballets: both for its choreography and music. In one of my past lives, it was also one of the ballets I learnt to dance. That is such a long time ago, it is hard to remember or even believe in.
What I do remember was the experience of going to watch Swan Lake with an ex-ballet friend in Munich some 20 years ago (long after we had both had left the ballet profession). It was a stunning performance. I remember the pure unfettered pleasure watching the ballet brought to my heart. This was something I hadn’t experience during the years while I danced.
Gone was the critical scalpel vision every dancer posses while observing other dancers. Something that cuts each dancer’s movements into feet, extensions, pointe work, and arms; each solo into the number of pirouettes turned and heights leapt; and pas de deuxs into lifts mastered. Instead, I sat mesmerised by the graceful movement and was deeply moved by the music.
I was not feeling nostalgic for those past times, but rather the experience of watching the ballet was enhanced by the familiarity of a personal shared history. This made me wonder whether this is what happens in life in general. Do we, as we grow older, receive pleasure by watching others dance the dance of life’s ups-and-downs in a way we could not when we were younger?