Ballet- The Art of Observing.
Five years old, and gripped by the idea of watching a ‘real-life’ ballet, I was taken cautiously by my mother into the Hall for Cornwall to watch Swan Lake. A rather exciting and magical performance; apparently. I fell asleep within thirty minutes.
Yet, an experience I will never forget the first thirty minutes of! In all honesty, for me to remember anything at five years old is a miracle, so the dancers and company -whoever they were- should feel very proud. This brings me to the point that just as an eager small child can’t appreciate a ballet, neither can many average people. It does not mean, however, that they will never be able to master the art of observing.
notice or perceive (something) and register it as being significant.
Observation, a fine art involving all senses and an open mind. An art form not nearly as recognised as it should be and used every day by thousands of blind eyes.
Understanding observation is understanding the difference between looking and seeing, the gap between an educated eye and a blind one. The educated eye sees an endless array of coloured possibilities within art whereas the blind eye sees the beauty, but no reason, no contradiction and no friction. Art can be false and wrong and beautiful and sunshine all at once.
Looking is where appreciation fails, seeing is where it blooms.
Delving into the intensity of a good traditional ballet, there are going to be audience members that will fall asleep but somehow end up thinking, “I wish that was me…” because, as you know if you’re reading this blog, ballet is strength and beauty on a stage with lights. However, there are going to be audience members who come home and write, dream, speak and live the ballet until they can stand it no longer. These are the people who piece it together and apart, filter through the movement and dance it metaphorically and physically. The eyes have seen beauty and loopholes and white noise and colour! Appreciation for dance and art comes from that place in your brain where you chose to love or fall straight into love.
As a teenager, I saw a ballet again- St Petersburg Ballet- at the Hall for Cornwall with my dance school. I sat through the whole thing, thankfully, without falling asleep- this would’ve been embarrassing at fifteen. I felt myself more engaged, all of a sudden it wasn’t just pretty. I found elegance where I found problems and problems where I found elegance. Sat on the edge of my seat for the first time, I found myself registering the significance of movements; a suggestive and romantic hand, a heavy landing to make my feet wince.
My opinions evolved and became educated, I started to see rather than look. Using observatory and critical skills meant that my education grew as my eyes saw.
Since this realisation, I endeavour to see when teaching, performing and observing.