The first dance was a very pastoral, classic ballet. The background was an Impressionist painting of a meadow on the edge of a grove a trees. A poet relaxed in this meadow, surrounded by his muses, clad in classic white tutus and sleeveless bodices. You know when you were young and in your jewelry box there was a white plastic ballerina that would turn and play music whenever you lifted the lid? She was on the stage dancing with her many sisters that night.
San Jose's ballet rarely peforms full-length ballets - there were four seperate shows tonight. The second was short - less than four minutes. It was sent to the Billie Holiday song "Strange Fruit" - if you haven't heard it, I highly suggest it and I am not a fan of blues or jazz or Billie Holiday as a general rule - and it was only one dancer, a dark-skinned man with only the smallest scrap of muslim for clothing. He was energy and frenzy, throwing himself madly across the floor in spins and contorting and writing with the fluidity of a serpent. His movements would sometimes slow, as pantomine, to the lyrics that echoed through the silent theater:
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Great song. Great ballet.
After a five-minute break, a completely different scene appeared. A blind Chinese man, old, carrying only his ur-hee instrument (combine a guitar and a violin and that's the closest description I can come up with) makes his way awkwardly across the stage. He sits on a rock at the corner of the stage and begins to play an old Chinese folk tune he composed when he as younger. His name is Ah Bing, and he is a genius amongst Chinese composers. As he plays, in the background dancers celebrate life in his small village. A boy chases his neighbor's daughter and together they play. tGirls laugh and do a lantern dance, carrying brightly lit paper shaped like lilies and bells. The boy returns, now a man but blind, and marries his childhood sweetheart. Bright colors and energy swirl behind the old man, carefully playing his light, delicate music with only the slightest movements. Then the bright scenes fade away behind and he is alone again, finishing the last few measures before hobbling off stage again.
The final dance was a mixture of Salvonic and Hungarian dances, with music by Antonin Dvorak and Johannes Brahm. The costumes were bright and cheerful to match the festival atmosphere. The Slavs wore fur caps and had fur lining on jacquard dresses; each man was dressed as a cheerful soldier. The Hungarians, who performed after the Slavonic dances, wore smart white blouses and bell skirts, each a different color, while the boys were uniformly dressed in black and red. They danced 'round a May Pole and were far more expressive, with one girl jealous that her partner constantly 'escaped' her to dance with other girls and another pair happily exchanged wedding vows. The dances were light and fun, a good way to round out the evening.
Pretty pretty pretty!
And really, there isn't much else to say.