Friday, September 16, 2005

Fully Licensed.

I live a full and original life filled with its requisite share of excitement and scandal, and I am quick to have this pointed out to new acquaintances. I am not a member of any country clubs, though I insist this is the result of design rather than circumstance. I am possessed of all the organs and body parts with which I was born, obvious exceptions such as teeth and hair aside, and like to believe that should a suffer something such as a kidney failing, there would be many friends and perhaps even several strangers who would rush to donate one of their own.

When it comes to my past, I do not confabulate. Yes, there was a time when I was most frequently seen in the company of squint-eyed gentleman carrying numerous timepieces; sure-footed women who travelled in trios; and flocks of ragged children who would pass me cryptic notes scrawled on restaurant napkins. These times are past, and I have emerged into the light of a future which still awaits many of you, and will forever be a mere shimmering mirage to even more.

All of this is simply a preamble, a belated introduction, to explain how it is that I regularly come to attend the opening of various ballets. And admittedly, this preamble explains nothing. This is its way, for which it must be forgiven.

Wednesday night saw the opening of the Australian Ballet's latest (and 2005's last) production, Sleeping Beauty. I wasn't really sold on the show before attending it, but it was only about ten minutes into the show that I had to turn to my plus one and exclaim: "I have no idea what the hell is going on. And I LOVE IT!"

Without having read the synopsis, I was pretty sure I knew the story of Sleeping Beauty. Girl falls asleep under some curse or something, Prince Charming or whoever wakes her up with an unrequested bit of smoochy smoochy. Happiness ensues, &c.

It wasn't long before I realised that this wasn't enough to fill a 3-hour-plus ballet, and so the padding we got went pretty off-track. And by padding, I mean the most expensive show the AB has done, mostly spent on awesome sets and costumes and such guff. There was plenty of gold, masses of dancers just doing their thing all over the stage at once, seemingly random characters (two dancers dressed as cats, some mechanical robot dudes, dancing kids carrying completely inexplicable wooden boxes, rat-headed monsters and so on) who were often as entertaining as the dancers who were supposed to be the focus at any one point. In fact, the whole lack of focus was what I liked: most of the time, there was so much happening that you didn't have any idea what you were meant to be paying attention to.

And the set: most of the time it was a kind of vaguely middle-Eastern/West Asian-inspired mix of stuff, with a castle coming across more like a Thai temple or Taj Mahal kind of thing. Loves it.

Of course, we're all here for the afterparty and I'm pleased as spiked punch to say that the AB finally outdid itself on this one. The Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria. Great food: soft-as-tissue vegie rice paper rolls, melting cheese crumbed and fried, caramelised onion and capsicum mini-pizza. There was also some kind of beef or lamb sandwiches, but I wasn't going near them suckers.

Drinks included pink champagne with passionfruit, vodka and slices of star fruit! Very nice.

And the only incongruous things were...models in ballerina outfits standing on podiums under spotlights - but clearly not dancers. You could tell by their stance. Not a big problem, but a bit odd. Probably well paid. I realised after a while that they were there to promote one of the sponsors, a diamond or pearl company or something.

Also, the other major sponsor of the show was Aust. Women's Weekly, so there were copies lying around everywhere. At the ballet! I know, I know, I was like, no way!

But when the curtain closes, I'm glad to see that my independently-produced theory of openings, developed by a rigorous thinktank of carefully selected local and international brains, and heavily tested in a series of hypothetical dry-runs held in controlled environments, finally proved correct. And the thesis is this: if you attend enough openings in a year, one of them is statistically guaranteed to be the best opening ever held in the universe.

Probably overstating it a bit, actually. Which is my prerogative. It's easier, and more interesting to read.

For truly, one writer's laziness is another's creative license.


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