Saturday, March 9, 2013

My Night at the San Francisco Ballet

Although this topic is not directly related to books and reading, and although I fully realize the feelings I express in this post are far from original, I can’t resist writing about the magnificent San Francisco Ballet (SFB) performance I attended a few nights ago, and the feelings it evoked in me about the larger world of art. My wonderful daughter took me to this performance as a gift, and we both felt it was one of the best ballet performances we had ever attended (and we both have gone often over the years to see various dance companies perform). Program Four at the SFB consisted of three pieces (both my daughter and I prefer these shorter pieces to the full-length “story” ballets, although of course those are often wonderful as well.) The first was “Scotch Symphony,” choreographed by George Balanchine; the third was “From Foreign Lands,” by Alexei Ratmansky (a world premier); both were excellent, beautiful, and beautifully danced. But the most riveting, the most sublime piece was the middle one: “Within the Golden Hour,” by Christopher Wheeldon. It was gorgeous, inventive, cohesive, fantastic; the movement was amazingly creative and intensely compelling; every minute of watching every interwoven permutation of dancers and dance was pure joy. So here are my unoriginal but heartfelt feelings and thoughts evoked by the performance: I left the Opera House feeling almost “high,” thinking about the transcendence that art -- whether it is literature, dance, music, theater, painting, or something else -- provides in our lives. It allows us to see and feel the best that the human mind and heart can offer; it allows us to transcend the everyday, the quotidian. Even when the art addresses and embodies the difficult parts of life, it takes us to another place, another perspective, and we feel how sharing the experience allows a note of hope, no matter what. And when it focuses on the pure joy of movement, music, and more, there is nothing better. I think of all the art I have been fortunate enough to experience over the years -- in books, in museums, in performance spaces, and elsewhere -- and I am deeply grateful to the writers, choreographers, dancers, composers, musicians, visual artists, actors, and all those who contribute to the art that opens up and gives us access to larger spaces, thoughts and feelings in us all.


  1. You remark, in your discourse above, that the transcendence that art provides in our lives is one of the most special things we can experience, and I wholeheartedly agree. And it doesn't matter what form the art is presented in. It requires the interaction of the artist and the receiver, and in that brief instant of time, the most amazing things happen. And I fully believe that art (be it music, dance, or literature, but especially music) is one of those things that keeps us in touch with the eternal, and makes us unique. And thank you for this post!


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