Sunday, April 7, 2013

18th New Thing ~ Dance of the Sugarplum Binkies

Ballet. Opera......Opera. Ballet.

I've always kind of lumped these two together. Of course, technically I knew the difference, if I thought about it. But I never really thought about it. I may have even written them as one item on the list of potential New Things last July.

At this writing, opera is still on my list of things to do. But ballet is not.
I have now been to the ballet. New Thing #18.

I find myself wanting to start by telling you, "This is a true story," but that isn't really necessary so I'll resist the urge. (But it really is true!) 

On the stone tablets of the Mother's Ten Commandments,  the 9th Commandment reads,
Thou Shalt Take Thy Daughter to the Nutcracker Ballet.

(If you're the mother of only boys, I'm not exactly sure what the equivalent is....Go-Cart racing, maybe? Tae kwon do class? Professional wrestling match? Wow, I might really suck at those commandments.)

Quite a few Christmases, as she was growing up, Ciara wanted to go to The Nutcracker. And each of these Christmases, I meant to take her. The voice in my head telling me, a 'good mom' takes her daughter to The Nutcracker, for heaven sake. She makes it a holiday tradition.

I meant to take her. I did. But intent without action isn't worth much. Turns out, it isn't really the thought that counts, at all. You have to put your behavior where your intention lives. Otherwise it's just a lot of daydreaming about what you wish would happen.  

I never did take her. She was invited to join others who went, so she has been to see it several times. And she loved it. In fact, her husband Ephraim took her to The Nutcracker the day he proposed.

In spite of the fact that I blew that 9th Commandment with Ciara, she never seemed to hold it against me. At least, not out loud. Bless you, Ciara.

Fortunately, for me, the Year of New Things coincided with her daughter, Sequoia's, First Christmas. And I saw my chance to assuage a sliver of the inevitable parenting guilt, by taking them both to The Nutcracker Ballet.

So, on the eve of Christmas Eve, Ciara, Sequoia and I went to The Nutcracker Ballet at the Pantages. We splurged for the balcony box seats . . you know those cool private ('private' being, you and four people that you may or may not know) seats on the side of the theater, up over the stage. We sat front row and could see right down into the orchestra pit. We had a great prospect of the action on stage but also a bit of the frantic scrambling behind the scenes. Stage Right.

It was beautiful. All of it. The theater. The dancing. The costumes and the scenery. Stunning. The music was wonderful. It was fascinating to watch the conductor's motions and energy in tandem with the dancers motions and energy, above him.

And so now, having been to my first ballet, this is my honest, heart-felt review of ballet....
..not enough dialog.

I love dialog. I do. "I love reading it, watching it, writing it," she said.  In Action, Suspense or Science Fiction movies, I tolerate the action-packed, suspense-filled  and science fiction-y scenes just to get to the good stuff: the dialog. The relationships, the interpersonal interactions, the social dynamics. I even like the scenes where Tom Hanks talks to the volleyball in Cast Away.

Turns out there's no dialog in ballet. I guess I already knew this, somewhere in my head, if I thought about it. But like I said before, I never really thought about it. Of course there's no dialog in ballet. Ya think? Head smack.

At first, I was appropriately enthralled. Excited and anticipating. Like a real live, grown-up ballet aficionado.

At first.

But then after awhile, I found myself gazing up at the beautiful, ornate detail of the theater ceiling, wishing I had my camera to take a picture during intermission.
Looking beside me, to see how 8th month old Sequioa was doing with her first ballet. Had she noticed the ceiling too?
Wondering if the Tacoma Ballet allows pictures to be taken of the performance.
Flipping through the program and finding that, sure enough, photography was forbidden.
Studying the faces of the crowd watching the ballet.
Glancing at Sequoia, making sure she seemed happy.
Wondering, if I pull that massive, industrial-strength power plug from the outlet in the wall next to me, what might happen.
Looking back to Sequoia, marveling at how content she is, happily soothed by her binkie.
Then completely astonished at how quickly and silently that binkie went flying out of her mouth and over the rail of balcony. Out of sight. Somewhere into the dark, unseen seats below.

Ciara and I gaped at each other. Momentarily paralyzed. Then we gaped at Sequoia. We simultaneously began quietly as we could. We both started to lean forward toward the rail but stopped ourselves. The giggling grew worse. I so wanted to look over the edge of the balcony to see where it might have landed. On whose head it might have bounced. But I also so did not want who ever it was, to be looking up at me at the same time, to see my guilty face.
We did our best to muffle our amusement, but could not stop laughing. (And frankly, I can hardly type now for laughing.)

"What do we do?"
"I have no idea. Should we go get it?"
"No, I don't think we're supposed to get up during the performance." 
"Well, we're also not supposed to launch our binkie from the balcony."

(Finally, some dialog.)

We looked at the rail, longingly.
"Can you see where it went?"
"I'm too scared to look over the edge."
The laughter increased.

Sequoia seemed less concerned about the fate of the people below than she was about the fact that there was no longer a binkie in her mouth.

"Just give her another binkie and we'll never speak of this again. And no eye contact with anyone when we leave the theater."

Ciara stopped laughing and looked at me. I knew exactly what she was about to say. "That was the only binkie I brought," Ciara said.

Our laughter returned. Only louder. Sequoia loves when the people around her laugh but our merriment was apparently outweighed by her growing awareness that she still didn't have a binkie in her mouth.

Ciara was relatively new to this parenting thing, and clearly had forgotten the First Commandment:
Thou Shalt Always Carry Back-up Binkies.        

During the intermission, Ciara raced through the crowd and down the stairs to the seats below. Sequoia and I sat waiting, chatting about the ballet so far. Comparing notes. Sequoia felt it was pretty good right up to the point when she no longer had her binkie. I told her that's just where it started getting interesting for me. We agreed that it was quite different than either of us had expected.

Ciara returned. She'd found the binkie on the floor near some seats that she believed no one had been sitting in. That's the story we're telling ourselves.


Intermission over, we settled back in and ballet began again. Ciara deliberately held Sequoia as far back from the rail as was possible. We took turns keeping our hands in the general area between Sequoia's face and the edge. Ready to react to any unexpected developments.

I'm not sure how far we were into the second half of the performance, having gotten caught up in the artistry, the dancing and the mystery of which spotlights might go off if I unplugged that cord, when we heard a quiet but distinct 'ptooey' sound come from Sequoia's direction. Ciara and I looked at each other. Then at Sequoia. No binkie. Without even trying to lower her voice, Ciara said, "Are you frickin' kidding me?" We checked our laps, the floor around us. It was no use; we knew exactly where that binkie went. We looked at the rail and started giggling again. This ballet was turning out to be more fun than I'd anticipated.

When it was over, Ciara again scrambled down the stairs, against the flow of the crowd. Sequoia and I waited. But I could no longer resist the urge to look over the edge of the balcony. And sure enough, looking up at me was a man holding the binkie. Merry Christmas!

One of my favorite aspects of the New Things blog posts has been the pictures. Between you and me, there are some posts I re-visit frequently, just to look at the pictures. I love them.

This New Thing was very visual, in nature. This makes me especially sad that I don't have better pictures to add here. I did grab a couple shots with my phone.

The ceiling.

Under the main balcony.

Ciara, Sequoia and The Rebel Binkie

Sequoia regaled us with the highlights over dinner a couple nights later. 

It feels good to have taken Ciara to The Nutcracker Ballet, who, in turn, covered that 9th Commandment by taking Sequoia for her very first Christmas. The start of a great yearly tradition. Do you think they have The Nutcracker Ballet in Panama? 


  1. Ha ha! What a great story.

    I saw The Nutcracker once. I knew a few of the dancers, so trying to spot them in every number kept me entertained.

    1. Although this ballet experience was happily derailed by the adorable angel child, I hope to someday go to another. Perhaps something at the Pacific NW Ballet. Swan Lake starts tomorrow. (Although I hear it's not a comedy.) ~ B

  2. Thank you, Barbie. The title of this post cracked me right up!

    Apparently, this parental rule extends to sons. I took mine to the Sendak-designed Nutcracker in Seattle many years ago. Justin was about six or seven, I'm thinking. We were in the first row in the balcony, and had to do a lot of craning and edge-of-seat sitting. No flying binkies did we spy, though.

    1. Yes, playing with the title was fun. The runner-up was: Into Every Ballet a Little Binkie Must Fall
      I imagine the Sendak artwork was amazing. Lucky Justin. ~ B

  3. The corollary for mothers of boys is "Thou shall take thy son to a monster truck rally." I too have failed as a mother.

    Hilariuos post. Thank goodness Sequoyah improved the entertainment value of the ballet. I might need to borrow her if I ever get around to going.

    1. If you can get her back to this country, you are welcome to borrow her for some binkie ballet. I'll even pay for your tickets. ~ B