Monday, April 27, 2009


Take nine soloists from the Bolshoi Ballet and send them to Thessaloniki all alone with a trunk full of costumes and a couple of CDs and what do you get?

By “all alone,” I mean, you leave the rest of the dancers, the corps de ballet, at home, meaning you cannot perform complete works such as Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet. You leave the orchestra at home, so the dancers work with recorded music. You leave all your stage sets and props at home, so the stage will be absolutely bare. (It takes a blend of quite a few different arts to perform the usual ballet, when you stop to think about it, It takes musical composition, musical performance, stage sets design and construction, costume design and construction, choreography, and, of course, the actual dancing.

So what do you get with just nine soloists, five men and four prima ballerinas, a few costumes, and a CD? Magic, that’s what! You get enough magic to make you, most of the time, forget all the rest. You get a showcase of virtuosity. You get a lot of pas de deux, which for me is the main thing I look forward to in a ballet anyway. You get a good blend of classic and modern ballet, modern but not ugly, as is so much of what passes for “art” these days. (A thousand years from now, when archaeologists look at Twentieth-Century paintings and read the literature of our day, and listen to the popular music, they are going to scratch their heads in bewilderment and ask one another, “What ailed them?”)

The costumes were great, too. Yes, yes, the men in blouses and tights with over-sized codpieces, but never mind that. Yes, there was the pink tutu, as well as the white one for the number from Swan Lake, plus the ballerina-length dresses. All you look for was there, and more. Twice there were flesh-colored leotards and tights, making the performers almost appear nude. It worked, though, very, very well. Sometimes I felt trasnported into a previous century, perhaps the 19th. (Made me wonder about those Victorians, who used to think looking at a woman’s ankle was provocative – how did they ever tolerate ballet?)

It was a splurge, but as our attendance was in celebration of our anniversary, belatedly, my name day, also belatedly, and my birthday, a few days hence, we figure we got off easy. The theater wasn’t full, almost certainly due to the economic downturn. I wanted to say, “So what? It’s the Bolshoi! You find the money, you scrape together the money some way!” Yeah, well, but if you don’t have a job...

As we were waiting for the next elevator to the balcony before the performance, we heard some man call out, “Demetri? Demetri!”

“It’s a different Demetrios,” I said, as we turned around to look. And so it was. But it wasn’t just any Demetrios. It was, of course, an Old Friend, a fellow student from medical school. So we exchanged telephone numbers and said we’d all meet for coffee one day, and who knows? Perhaps we really shall.

We found our seats, and the couple next to us, hearing us speak English, took a great interest in us. They had lived in America ten years. The man was a surgeon, although far enough ahead of Demetrios in medical school that they didn’t actually know each other. They still compared notes on some of their old professors, and by the end of the evening, again we exchanged telephone numbers and said we’d all meet for coffee one day, and who knows? Perhaps we really shall.

It’s amazing how many friends you either bump into or make here, and how quickly people come to love one another. It’s as though kindred spirits just recognize one another.

Hints from Helen:

It isn’t gastrointestinal bleeding; it’s just the beet salad you ate yesterday. Nothing alarming.

If you don’t want to start a rumor, just don’t.


Wendy said...


Christopher D. Hall said...

Happy Birthday!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thanks! It WAS happy, too!