Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ballet for kids

Yesterday Ella and I had the nicest Wednesday afternoon that we had in awhile. Way back in September, when Ella's dance class was cancelled and I decided not to sign her up for the more serious dance school, I went online and bought tickets for all kinds of special shows and concerts and spectacles. I figured that she could get just as much out of watching dance as she could by participating (or atleast, compared to the amount of dancing that she did in her old class. There was lots of giggling and making funny faces in the mirrors, but not much else...) I had forgotten about lots of the things and was a bit surprised when tickets arrived in the mail last week for a dance spectacle at the Opera Bastille.

I had bought two children's tickets so I had to quick get on the phone and find a friend to come with. Not wanting a repeat of last weeks ENDLESS playdate, I immediately ruled out any and all children with working parents, and we were only left with a few options. When I mentioned it to Ella, she begged me to ask Owen, a boy from our anglophone playgroup. I didn't know if he liked dance but his mom was really excited about and even decided to bring her younger daughter to see if they could find some scalped tickets at the last minute. Maybe I'm just an uncultured American but it never occurred to me that someone would try to scalp tickets a children's ballet show...

Our friends came over early to play and then we slogged our way through the puddles and rain to the opera house. My friend managed to buy two tickets at the desk as there were quite a few that had never been picked up. Its good to know that even when the Internet shows a sold out seance, there are generally ones like this to be had at the last minute, according to the person at the info desk. There wasn't much of a crowd and in the amphitheatre where they held the show, it was set up so that the kids could either sit on the floor right next to where the dancer was or in the first few rows of seats. They set it up to feel really intimate, which was so nice for a show aimed at kids 3-6 years old.

We saw this show and I loved it. Ella kept asking me when the dansers were coming; I think that she expected the ballet dancers like we saw last time. This was set to Japanese music, with a really beautiful light show, and movements that copied animals, isolated one part of the body, or were just a bit silly to make the kids laugh. I thought it was so clever. The only bad thing was that I wasn't sitting next to Ella and so I couldn't point out the interesting bits. I think that once she lost interest, she spaced out on the rest of the show.

Oh well. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Afterwards, we were all ready for a gouter and I remembered reading about a good patisserie near the Bastille where there were tables. By the way, if you haven't bought a copy of the guide book The Patisseries of Paris by Jamie Cahill, you really should run right out and fix that. Its such a nice way to visit Paris, if you don't know the city well. And when you live here, there is nothing better than knowing all the best places to find a treat. I don't even eat many sweets or cakes and I have gotten my money's worth from this book many times over.

Once again, the book's advice was spot on for the Cafe Francais and we had such a fantastic treat. I loved my millefeuille and the two little girls both got a chocolate mousse cake type of thing that was also a hit. You could tell because they were both covered in chocolate by the time we left.

There are only a few more spectacle this year in the Jeune Public program at the Opera de Paris, but I am definitely going to take Ella to as many as I can. Its obviously great for her but I realized that I love doing stuff like this and its a good way to share one of my passions with her. Maybe in time, it'll turn out that this isn't really her thing (when I was telling B about it last night over dinner, he said that he would have died of boredom if his mom had tried to force him to get cultured. He may have even mimed gagging at one point in my story... God, he's such a caveman sometimes. Let's hope my genes win on this one.) but until then, what a great was to fill up her day off of school.

I am going to try and get her to some more classical ballet shows, like the Balanchine that we saw in November. She LOVED that. She tells people about it all the time, despite the fact that we had miserable seats and she could barely see (note to anyone booking the Baignoires, be sure to arrive extra extra early so you are in the front of the box and not in the back). I noticed that there is a ballet by Nureyev running in May that looks amazing, if a bit long. Thats the trick with the regular ballet shows- I need to buy seats good enough that Ella can see well, but not so expensive that I get upset if she gets bored and fidgetty and we need to leave early.

Still, it all ends up being less expensive than certain ballet classes that surprise you with astronomical bills for special tutus (are they special because they are made of gold?!!) for the end of the year recital, right?


Franklin said...

I love this post. I know when I bring the boys to productions, I am always amazed at how much they stay into it, and then talk about it for hours afterward. I have found that if the show is less than 2 hours they usually stay totally enthralled throughout.

Nicole said...

Thanks Franklin! I think 2 hours would still be a bit long for Ella but I also think it is a nice gentle 'lesson' for kids about learning to sit quietly. In all fairness, she is quite good for her age. Actually, its probably more honest to say that we have to leave because I can't handle watching her fidget. For my age, I'm very impatient ;-)

Rachel said...

what a good mommy to take your daughter to all those cultural events. sounds like you two have a blast

thanks for your comments on my blog!

Franklin said...

You know its not Franklin, right? I realized his email was signed in instead of mine after I posted the comment! (It's Juliet)

Nicole said...

HAHA! No I didn't know thqt it was Juliet. I wanted to quick publish the comment before I left the house yesterday and didn't click on the profile.
Don't be sneaky- sign your name!! ;-)