Last week we had the opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal of the Pennsylvania Ballet. For free! (Except the $21 parking.) We wondered how the boy would like it. (We knew our girl would love it, no worries about her.)
The dress rehearsals are offered to school and family groups. I was surprised that the theater was not even half full. With schools complaining about cuts to funding and art and music classes disappearing, I thought this free resource would be well-used. Maybe it was too close to the end of the year.
The first dance on the program was the world premiere of the Jupiter Symphony by Mozart. This was a short piece (about 1/2 an hour) with classic tutu-wearing ballerinas. Because of where we were seated, we had a great view of the stage and of the orchestra from above. I could see my boy was constantly watching, alternating between the dancers and the musicians. He was never bored.
The intermission was filled with activity as dancers warmed up, the conductor coached the musicians - it was nice to get this behind the scenes look at the ballet.
Carnival of the Animals was introduced by John Lithgow, who narrated the story. He gave a little background and then the dancing began. Oh, it was wonderful! You can see a little snippet below. Unfortunately I can't find a part with the chickens. The dancers captured the role of chicken perfectly.
At the end, we got another taste of the work involved as the choreographer began working with the dancers on the curtain call. Even this is carefully worked out. We left after this, though there was a third piece. It was called a "modern ballet" which made me wary right from the start. Sure enough, we saw something that said families might not want to stay for that one.
I need not have worried that my boy would have a problem at this ballet. He was riveted, enchanted. It helped that it was kid-friendly, of course. And that he loves music. But he wasn't super-keen on the ballet before we went. Now he'll be more open to going in the future.
We'll be looking for more opportunities to see dress rehearsals. With ticket prices mostly out of our reach, this is a great way to see a performance. Check out the opportunities in your town.