The first of anything foreign and divine can still be somewhat painful. The first glass of scotch, the first slice of blue cheese or even the first line of Shakespeare that one reads, while delightful with experience and retrospect, can all be a challenging experience. So it was with this trepidation and hesitation that I went along to the opening night of The Australian Ballet's new performance, Let's Dance.
Named as it was after the David Bowie song, I thought my mid-range knowledge of popular culture may see me through. But when I was given a dress code and decorum instructions I knew I was in for a Thursday night of firsts.
Firstly, it was packed (a sell-out I would presume) with the avid and the dedicated, and these regulars were keenly awaiting the performance. I, on the other hand, was just hoping to come out ceremoniously unscathed. The audience was relatively diverse, although the older and more refined demographic was very well presented. Whilst there was a subtle air of superiority evident, it wasn't evinced in a pompous manner. They were just superior at going to the ballet.
The second firstly was the show itself, which was nothing short of incredible. Being a junior to these events, I was pretty certain I would be bored to tears or, at the very least, yawns. But with the program consisting of 8 relatively short (for ballet standards) pieces from all around the country (Australian Dance Theatre and West Australian Ballet to name but a few), that was never going to happen.
It started with a cute two-man set which was enough to keep my senses awake and my attention focused, least of all for the pyjamas one of the dancers wore. But even through his cotton costume you had to admire his sheer athleticism. And that was just the opening act.
From then on the audience were treated to a piece-by-piece showcase of why dance in this country is now so damn exciting. The movements from the dancers of the Expressions Dance Company piece 'Don't Stay' made me believe in God, or, at the very least, a high lord of Yoga. The Tasdance presented their piece in an interesting AV format, and, what was a highlight for most, the Sydney Dance Company exhibited the rigours of ballet at the cellular level. And if you don't know what that actually means, neither do I, but it is worth going along to see if witnessing it will make it any clearer. It was nothing short of Avant Garde brilliance. The piece de resistance, 'Sweedeedee', a gorgeous narrative for the whole family, about a whole family, was a fitting way to end the night, as it was the Australian ballet family who got together to make the night possible in the first place.
The last firstly of the night, was the realisation that I actually enjoyed a night at the Ballet. Sure, I wasn't a familiar face people stopped to say hi to, nor did I fully understand every nuance and message implied by this fun and sound artistic production. But every dancer was physically remarkable, every piece was conceptually thoughtful and every hand clap of mine admiringly genuine. The only painful thing would have been if I tried to re-enact even the simplest of moves from the performance. Heck, even the bows had a degree of difficulty in them.
With Let's Dance, The Australian Ballet has made dance accessible for the average folk, or, if you're me, the very average folk. And the average folk, just like the superior non-pompous folk, would all enjoy it together, just like the pluralised title expects us to.