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mimi66

The Very First Ballet You Have Ever Seen...

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Not sure if this is the right place, but I thought it would be nice to share the memories of first time you have ever been to ballet (as an audience).

 

My first ever ballet was Royal Ballet's Swan Lake - it was just before I turned 4, was my birthday present.

 

I remember I was just mesmerised by the whole thing, and apparantly I didn't even move from my seat during the performance.

 

I would love to know who the cast was... don't think we bought the programme.  I remember, though clearly, that at the curtain call I went up with my mother to the stage and gave Odette a stem of white rose  (someone must have been holding me up...).

Edited by mimi66
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That's so cute!

 

My first ballet was Swan Lake, too. I was 9 or 10 and just recovered from the chicken pox… going to the ballet was the promised award for getting well quickly!

 

We saw it at our local opera house, in the summer (I can still remember the dress I wore).

 

I was completely hooked. :wub:

 

Three of the dancers (Odette, Siegfried and one of the brides) became my teachers when I went to professional training a few years later.

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I saw the little touring company associated with the Royal Ballet, Ballet for All. They came to Malvern late 70s or was it early 80s? It was my familys first taste of ballet although I attended lessons.

 

First full length ballet was Swan Lake at Birmingham when my ballet best friend took me as her birthday treat. Must have been early 80s. Desmond Kelly was my first Siegfried and I developed quite a crush on him. Can still see him now running around the stage with cloak billowing behind him!

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My first ballet was a school trip when I was 10 or 11 - it was Peer Gynt.  Many years later I discovered it must have been London Festival Ballet.

 

The first ballet I knowlingly booked for was a Nureyev and Friends Diaghalev progamme at the London Coliseum in 1982, which was booked as part of a Woman's Own trip.

 

The next ballet I booked for was a London Festival Ballet mixed programme in 1984 at the Liverpool Empire that included Sheherezade, which I wanted to see because I had read a biography of Nijinsky by then  And then on 26 May 1984 I saw Onegin at the London Coliseum because it had had a good review in the Liverpool Echo.  The rest is history.....

 

(I had discovered contemporary dance in the mid-late 1970s but was not as obsessed as I became about watching ballet).

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Swan Lake, London Festival Ballet - my 5th birthday treat. We must have been fairly far back but I remember being fascinated by the patterns the running Swans made. The music was what most enchanted me so my parents bought me an LP of highlights of the music.

 

Dd's was ENB's Nutcracker - the Gerald Scarfe designed one. IIRC the Coli was being refurbished so I'm sure we saw them at Hammersmith. She was 3; sat on my lap and did not move a muscle. She was absolutely transfixed by it all - especially the "Stripy Grandad", the Fridge, Clara in PJs, and the paper bird. :-).

 

Thus started her long - and expensive for us! - love affair with ballet.

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Janet, that Peer Gynt was televised and I saw it again at a BFI showing just a few years ago.  John Gilpin was every bit as wonderful as I remembered him, but what a crime the ballet hasn't made it onto DVD.

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The first ballet I booked to go see was a triple bill by New York City Ballet just over three years ago, which featured Balanchine's Serenade, Martins' Magic Flute and Balanchine's Stars & Stripes.
 

As soon as the curtain rose on Serenade I fell in love with ballet. The simplicity of the pose somehow transformed itself into the most powerful emotions and I spent much of Serenade trying to hold back tears. It remains one of my favourite pieces. The Magic Flute was a short story ballet which was nice but not as special as Serenade. Stars & Stripes showcased the virtuosity of ballet and I can remember being in awe of the "Thunder and Gladiator" movement which features an all-male corps doing some pretty awesome jumps. Needless to say, after tha Triple Bill I was hooked!

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The first ballet I recall on stage was either Petrushka or Firebird when I was about 19 or 20 and I think it must have been by Festival. However I saw ballet on television much earlier. Graduation Ball sticks in my memory as well as the Royal Danish Ballet's La Sylphide.  My mother took me to see some outdoor performances on Streatham Common by various companies when we first moved to London in 1954 and I think one of those was a ballet but I cannot recall the name of the work. 

 

I had .to wait until I went to university to see my next live performance because my father disapproved of ballet. My mother on the other hand had been enchanted by seeing "Madame Pavlova" at The Grand and she told me about the impression that the performance had made on her. That seeded the ambition of seeing the Dying Swan for myself which I achieved only last Sunday.

 

Nevertheless I learned quite a lot about ballet before I actually saw one. I found out about Leon Bakst from a wonderful exhibition at the V & A and of course all the other artists who had been commissioned by the Ballets Russes. I listened to a lot of ballet music which was when I developed a taste for Aaron Copland. I would love to see Appalachian Spring live though I have seen footage of Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham many times and Northern Ballet staged a work called Angels in the Architecture last year to the same music. I also got to know some ballet students at that time because their school was just the other side of the Cromwell Road from us and we occasionally bumped into one of them on our tube. As they did not have to prepare for Oxbridge entrance we did not take them very seriously but of course I discovered that they would have had to work at least as hard as us in different ways.

Edited by terpsichore

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The first time I saw ballet was on the TV program "Omnibus" hosted by Alistair Cooke.  I have no idea what it was except it was a pas de deux.

 

My first major theater experience was seeing the Bolshoi with Raissa Struchkova in Walpurgis Night at Philadelphia's very beautifful and historic Academy of Music (home of the Philadelphia Orchestra).  

 

Somehow I missed seeing Alicia Markova dance at Philadelphia's Robin Hood Dell - with 23,000 people in the audience.  But, I was a child and no one took me.

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I went to my first ballet in about 1950 to see International Ballet (Mona Inglesby's company) perform The Sleeping Princess at Coventry Hippodrome.  The programme is a general one with lots of pictures, but no specific dates, so I am not sure who was dancing.  I was about 8 and completely mesmerised and thrilled by the occasion, according to my mother.

 

In 1961 there was Festival of Ballet at the same place and there were many famous names dancing including Anton Dolin, Natalia Krassovska and Carla Fracci, a wonderful evening.

 

Margaret

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The first ballet I saw was Swan Lake when I was about 5 in our local theatre.  I  have no idea which company was performing, all I know is that I was absolutely enchanted by the whole thing. 

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I saw my first ballet, which was Swan Lake at ROH, in 2012, however for me it was the Nutcracker which I saw a month later preformed by the ENB, that made me want to see more ballet productions.  

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Swan Lake, London Festival Ballet - my 5th birthday treat.

The music was what most enchanted me so my parents bought me an LP of highlights of the music.

 

 

 

The first ballet I saw was Swan Lake when I was about 5 in our local theatre.  I  have no idea which company was performing, all I know is that I was absolutely enchanted by the whole thing. 

 

Me too!  Swan Lake, the London Festival Ballet, at the Davis Theatre, Croydon, sometime in the 50s.  My mother's choice as she had fond memories of ballet lessons as a child.  My sister and I were also sent to learn the basics and having seen the real thing we were fascinated.  My father bought us an EP of highlights and we practically wore it out dancing round the living room for ages afterwards.

 

But we were much luckier then as there were plenty of television performances to watch as well, unlike today, sadly.

 

Linda

 

Edited to add the name of the company.

Edited by loveclassics

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The first live ballet I saw was Fille by Sadler`s Wells Royal Ballet at the Manchester Opera House. Couldn`t take my eyes off the dancer`s feet en pointe.!  I think I had just started ballet lessons so I must have been 9 [1976]. I have no idea who was dancing,and sadly,I don`t have the programme. Every so often on Ebay I look for a SWRB programme of La Fille Mal Gardee in Manchester,but i`ve never seen one.

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Mine was Peter Darrells Nutcracker aged 7 to 13. I had no interest in ballet then and found it boring or at least the second half with all the national dances.

 

I took a dance class myself in my 30s? and was useless.

 

The turning point for me was when I saw Scottish Ballets Romeo and Juliet. The dancer did a tournier la air? is it? and I went wow how did he do that and I have been hooked ever since to point of total historian geek status. Lets be honest looks play a part too. You do not pay to see ballet company's for just that though.

 

Scottish Ballet are doing a refreshed version of Peter Darrells Nutcracker next Christmas and after seeing Hansel and Gretel how Christopher Hampson integrated young dancers I just cant wait.

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ABT at Sadler's Wells with a mixed programme in 2007 when I was in my late 30's, going along with a friend. I became an intermittent ballet goer after that and finally got bitten by the ballet bug after a Mayerling last year. It's been a good year for me :)

Edited by Coated

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The Nutcracker when I was about 8. The first one we took our then dds to was Fille.

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I was taken , age 6,by my mother, to see Swan Lake at Nottm Theatre Royal. Not sure of the company but that started a lifetime of loving ballet. Going with my mother, with friends and my own daughter once she reached 6. Now I take her daughter who,at 11, is aveteran of 5 BRB Nutcrackers! ABW in two years time it will be 70 years since that first Swan Lake.

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My first conscious trip to the ballet was the night Maggie Thatcher came to power in 1979. I saw SWRB at the old Sadler's Wells in a triple of The Four Temperaments, Las Harmanas with Galina Samsova and Pineapple Poll. I still have the programme and our seats in the upper circle were something like £2.50 each. One person I still remember very clearly was the red sailor in Poll. He was played by someone called David Bintley. Whatever happened to him I wonder? Yes, I am being ironic.

 

A month later my mother and I paid our first of many visits to the Opera House. Ever believing that you should start at the top it was the gala for Fonteyn's 60th birthday and official retirement. There is so much about that evening which I will never forget, not least one the lady herself. You see utter magnetism like that very few times in a lifetime.

This having said all that, the performance which really set me off on my balletgoing path was back at the Wells in 1982. Giselle with David Ashmole and the incandescent Margaret Barbieri in the Peter Wright production which I still think is the best. The other person who stood out for me was Stephen Wicks as Hilarion. We are still great friends and he came to my wedding 18 months ago and my mother's funeral. We had the Two Pigeons for all those years of ballet going and Salut d'amour for Margot starting it all in 1979.

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I got taken to the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth at the grand old age of three. My mother wanted to see Petrushka and, having no-one to look after me, I got taken too. She thought I wouldn't understand what was going on but apparently I sobbed my heart out  crying 'it's so sad Mummy' at the top of my voice!

 

I've been a ballet addict ever since.......

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My first ballet was Swan a Lake at Coventry Hippodrome with Margot Fonteyn and Attilio Labis. It was birthday present (I think I was 8), and my dad had bought tickets for a box. I spent the entire performance draped over the edge - my eyes glued to Fonteyn. She actually curtsied to our box- unforgettable!

Edited by Odyssey
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My first experience (of which I have virtually no memory) was during the war and we were living in Bedford. I must have been about six and a group of were taken from my primary school to see the visiting Ballet Rambert. The only piece in the programme I recall was "Lady Into Fox" with Sally Gilmour.

 

My first full length ballet was "Cinderella" at Covent Garden in 1949 with the original cast,except it was Fonteyn rather than Shearer.

 

The first ballet I actually booked to see myself was in 1955 - a Triple Bill of "Les Sylphides"(with Fonteyn),"Madame Chrysantheme" (Fifield,Grant,Doyle),and "Homage to the Queen".

 

But I think I really became hooked on ballet after the visit of the Marquis de Cuevas company season at the Coliseum in the '50s when I went night after night,paying half a crown to sit in the gallery and watch fantastic dancers like Vyrubova and Hightower in a succession of exotic ballets like "Piege de Lumiere" and "Night Shadow" which seemed to fire my imagination and left me wanting more.

 

I have,happily, never recovered.

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Wow!  All these famous names that people went to see.  Of all the names mentioned, Seymour is the one I regret never catching a glimpse of. 

 

The first famous names that I can remember seeing would have been Sibley and Dowell.  But for the life of me I cannot remember where or when, or even what.   I don't suppose they toured, so it must have been at the ROH. 

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My grandmother took me to Festival Ballet's Nutcracker when I was about 5. My parents didn't like ballet so I had to depend on my grandmother taking me when I was a kid and we visited her in London. I did manage to see Swan Lake with my dad (mother refused to go because she thought Tchaikovsky was beneath her dignity), and La Fille Mal Gardee a couple of times, when Sadlers Wells came to our town. I always wanted to see Giselle but somehow it was always Fille that we got tickets for.

Edited by Melody

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It's so interesting that so many people's first ballet experience was either Swan Lake or Nutcracker. it's not surprising, as I realise these are the two most child-friendly ballets, but it is an important reminder, at least to me, to NEVER give in to the impulse to be snobby about these "popular" ballets, because these are the ones where so many people's life long love for the art is born. So, thank you , tchaikovsky and Petipa, and thank you, ballet companies of the world, for always putting on these two ballets, and thus spawning new generations of ballet goers. May the art never die!

Edited by SMballet
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The first ballet performance I remember seeing was a triple bill by London Festival Ballet at the Gaumont Theatre in Southampton (now the Mayflower) when I was about five years old.  I may have seen "Swan Lake" before that but I have no memory of it.  I have no memory of which ballet completed the triple bill but I vividly remember "Le spectre de la rose" because I thought the man looked very silly in his rose petal costume!  The ballet which completely blew me away was "Scheherazade", partly because of its colour and vitality but mainly because of the Golden Slave who mesmerised me with the virility of his dancing (although at the age of five I  wouldn't have even known the meaning of that word!) and I have never forgotten the moment when he seems to balance solely on the side of his face and his hands with the rest of his body held straight up above him nor that final leap from the top of the staircase! Sadly my parents did not keep the programme so I do not know the name of this wonderful dancer who sparked my lifelong passion for ballet.  I have seen the ballet many times since and was delighted by Dima Gruzdyev's performances a few years ago which brought those memories flooding back!

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So many lovely memories of "first ballet"...   what a nice way to start a life long pleasure!

 

I was expecting more "Nut Cracker" to be the first ballet, so a bit surprised that "Swan Lake" seems to be the most popular choice. 

In my case, we didn't really have choice.  In a regional city where we used to live in the late 1960's we only ever had "Swan Lake" . 

 

So my first Swan Lake with the Royal Ballet was followed by Kirov, and then Bolishoi.  I loved all of them.

 

The first ballet I booked and saw was Bolero with Jorge Donn (the Bejart Ballet) - I was blown away!

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The ballet which completely blew me away was "Scheherazade", partly because of its colour and vitality but mainly because of the Golden Slave who mesmerised me with the virility of his dancing (although at the age of five I  wouldn't have even known the meaning of that word!) and I have never forgotten the moment when he seems to balance solely on the side of his face and his hands with the rest of his body held straight up above him nor that final leap from the top of the staircase! Sadly my parents did not keep the programme so I do not know the name of this wonderful dancer who sparked my lifelong passion for ballet.  I have seen the ballet many times since and was delighted by Dima Gruzdyev's performances a few years ago which brought those memories flooding back!

Festival Ballet had the definitive Golden Slave in Dudley von Loggenburg, I wonder if it was him you saw.  It pains me that the Golden Slave is cut down mid leap in these inferior Isabelle Fokine versions.  The famous upside down death is rarely seen now - such sacrilege.

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Yes, I expect it might have been Dudley von Loggenburg as this would have been in the early 1960s.  I totally agree about the Isabelle Fokine versions - witness the boring production of "Petrouchka" for ENB last season which was heartbreaking as this used to be one of my favourite ballets when they danced the Beriosoff version - so colourful and full of vitality! 

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