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mimi66

The Very First Ballet You Have Ever Seen...

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Thanks for a fascinating thread.

 

My mother took me to The Two Pigeons at ROH.(It must have been with something else??) Quite an unusual introduction. Then Nureyev in Sleeping Beauty- I was 7 or 8 and awestruck. Still have the programme somewhere. Fell in love with ballet at that- the floral decorations, the leaps.

There was a  long gap then I went to Royal Ballet Big Top as a student and the flame was reignited-I sat in the front row,  I think with my mouth wide open the whole way through which must have been a delightful sight for the dancers who were about 2 feet away .It was wonderful.

How important it is to tour. I knew I had to go again asap and as soon  as I got  a job started buying ROH tickets and never looked back.

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The first full length ballet I ever saw was at the Theatre Royal in Stoke on Trent ( now sadly closed), although I was a complete bun head I was 19 before I saw my first full length ballet and it was Nutcracker! It would have been round 1982 so I am no sure which company it was...may have been a Russian company or maybe Janet Lewis before she started EYB. I was totally mesmorised and I loved it! The second full length ballet I saw was in Southampton a couple of years later, it was Sleeping Beauty and was probably English National or what ever they were called before their current name.

 

NL

 

Edited to say it was Nutcracker!

Edited by Nana Lily

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I feel quite sad reading these threads, that so many of the regional theatres have closed, and can no longer support a major ballet production.  I remember that the place where I saw my first full length ballet was the Odeon cinema, which had itself been converted from an old music hall theatre.  Long gone, to be replaced by a new multiplex cinema complex that couldn't put on any live show at all.

 

And I wish and hope that the people who organise specific productions for schools will read this thread and take on board that children love traditional ballet.  A few years ago I was in the ROH shop, and get chatting to a couple of adults with about half a dozen children.  They were home educators who had just taken their various charges to a school performance.  When I asked what they had seen, it had been a triple bill ending with Mukhamedov in The Judas Tree. Can't remember what else was on it, but I did think all three were very odd choices for school performances.  When I asked the children whether they had enjoyed it, the response was along the lines of, "We would much rather have seen a proper ballet." 

 

Poor kids had been going for years, yet they had never been shown any of  the classics, and they were desperate to see something that involved tutus!

 

Not just the ballet, of course.  Apparently the opera choices were just as "challenging".  As they said, "What's wrong with Swan Lake or The Magic Flute?"  Indeed, what is wrong with those?

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Just to day that although the Theatre Royal in Stoke has indeed sadly closed we now have The Regent which is a wonderful venue with a large stage, great acoustics & wonderful backstage facilities.

 

The only thing is that Stoke suffers from being so close to both Birmingham & Manchester which can affect ticket sales.

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My first trip to the ballet was when I was 12/13 up in London could have been the Theatre Royal Drury Lane but it was a gala with Margot Fonteyn doing an extract from The Firebird and Alicia Markova doing something from Les Sylphides I think. There were many famous American dancers there like Alicia Alonso and the Tallchief sisters. I got their autographs and also John Gilpin. I think this gala was around 1960-61.

 

As an adult my next ballet was at the theatre in Oxford. I was a student in Reading and it must have been the Sadlers Wells touring company circa 1968-9. But one of the ballets was Monotones which I loved and immediately went out and bought a lot of Eric Satie's piano music.

My third time was in Liverpool around 1971 when I saw what was then the Northern Dance Theatre on the Wirral at Ellesmere Port.....possibly Port Sunlight Hall.

Once I moved down to London in 1972 it was the Nureyev and Fonteyn era(or rather near the end of an era) at the ROH and lots of Nutcrackers at the Festival Hall with the London Festival ballet for me then!! Still been pretty much the same since. But in those seventies years I went an awful lot to,the ROH usually paying 50p for standing tickets!!

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I don't think it was my first ballet ever, but I was lucky enough to see the Bolshoi when they came to London for the very first time in 1956.  My Dad queued up most of the day when the Covent Garden box office opened for ticket sales, but when he got to his turn, he was told that he could only buy two tickets per performance.  Somehow he managed to persuade the man in the box office that it was absolutely vital that he take his 9 year old daughter (me) as well as his wife, because his little girl was going to be a ballerina and so just had to see the Bolshoi perform!  The man was obviously convinced and allowed Dad to buy three tickets for three performances!  I remember we had good seats too, we really splashed out - Stalls Circle and Grand Tier in the middle!  I saw Ulanova and Struchkova and all the greats and I was so bowled over by Ulanova that I wrote to her and invited her to tea!   I got a gracious reply refusing regretfully due to her heavy schedule, but she sent me a signed photo, which I still have by my bedside. 

 

I remembered those performances as being so amazing, that when I bought a DVD of archive performances by the Bolshoi, I was almost afraid to watch in case, compared to what we expect nowadays, I would be disappointed.  I needn't have worried - Ulanova was indeed incredible and I sat watching the DVD as mesmerised as when I had seen the real thing all those years ago.

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Oh so do I!  Watching clips of her, the way she moved, she was magnificent.

 

And yet, today, she probably would not get into a school in the first place.  When you look at her, she really doesn't fulfill the exacting physicial requirements that today's dancers seem to need to be selected. 

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Mine was, surprise, surprise, LFB's Nutcracker, sometime when I was pretty young, at the Festival Hall.  I don't remember much about it, apart from the "Chinese" dancers shuffling around.  Then another decade plus, I think, before I started seeing anything else: LFB again with La Sylphide and a mixed bill at uni, plus Northern Ballet with Sleeping Beauty.

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I am from a very poor and small village in Brazil.

Growing up in a place like that is not easy or nice...

Of course Ballet of something that I never saw until one day, on TV, they randomly showed a clip with about 1 minute of the Swan Lake Pas de deux with Margot Fontain and Rudolf Nureyev... 

I remember looking at my mom's face, who was sitting beside me also watching the tv, and asking: "Can I do that'?

My mom very shocked said: "This is Ballet, do you want to dance Ballet?"

And not knowing much about it I just said yes...

Unfortunately, we would never be able to afford classes, so within few days all was forgotten.

Until when I was 12 years old and got a Full Scholarship to study in the most prestigious Ballet Schools of my neighboring city.

And a detail a always love mentioning: My first ballet with that school was SWAN LAKE...

It was very emotional for my mom and me.

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What an inspiring story Vlad Pereira. Just shows you what real passion can do!

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Sadler's Wells Ballet at the ROH in June 1953, just after the Coronation I was taken to matinee of The Sleeping Beauty for my 11th birthday with Nadia Nerina and Alexis Rassine. Lorna Drage was the Lilac Fairy. Julia Farron was one of the Fairies. Unfortunately, I lost the cast list but still have the special Coronation programme with Nadia Nerina's autograph. She handed out flowers from her bouquet and I pressed my carnation but it is long gone now. Does anyone else remember the little cubby hole at the stage door that used to house the ballerina signing autographs!

Edited by Simpson
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Welcome to the forum, Simpson. What a lovely memory to have - thanks so much for sharing.

 

We hope to hear more from you!

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The first ballet I saw was ENB Swan Lake in 2012. I was visiting a friend in London and saw the posters so I went in and asked if they had any tickets. As a student I got to sit in the Grand Circle for £15! I remember being completely in awe and smiling the whole time so I must have looked crazy!

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My first visit to the ballet was a birthday present from an "honorary aunt" , My mother and I were staying with her in Oxford when she announced that this year she was giving me a present that we would all enjoy. The present was a ticket to see a  performance by Ballet Rambert" as it was called in those days. It was a triple bill that included Tetley's Pierrot Lunnaire with Christopher Bruce and I think, Anthony Tudor's Judgement of Paris, Dark Elegies came later. The performances were wonderful.

 

The following year I was in Russia on a school trip and we were taken to the Opera (Eugene Onegin) and the Ballet The Stone Flower. Even then with my theatre going experience somewhat limited and my ballet experience that single outing in Oxford I recognised that a great deal of the score was used in exposition and that an awful lot of story was crammed into the rest. I have no idea who I saw dance. 

 

When I was a student I saw the Royal Ballet Touring Company when they came to Oxford,this was before the company was disbanded by MacMillan at the behest of the Opera House Board, and as a result I.  saw a lot of the older repertory including Cranko's  The Lady and the Fool, with the original designs,The Rake's Progress, Pineapple Poll with Brenda Last and Les Patineurs. At one performance it was announced that due to indisposition the originally announced Blue Boy was to be replaced by Mr Brian Shaw I knew so little I had no idea who he was. So far so good.

 

Then the Touring Company was replaced by a smaller experimental group . Along with a lot of other people I booked for this new group. They performed a series of short ballets, that in itself was not a problem as the old company had performed mixed bills to a very appreciative audience,the problem was with the ballets themselves which were incredibly boring. There was a ballet called Lazarus From Waking Death I do not now recall whether this was a single ballet with a long title or two separate works all I recall is that they were earnest and went on interminably.I recall that the audience at. the Playhouse seemed to be switching off and all making a mental note not to go again when suddenly we were presented with a real ballet Ashton's Monotones II with at least two of the original cast. If that had not been on the programme I might have given up on ballet.

 

 So now I decided that I needed to see the company at the Opera House we booked fora Swan Lake matinee and we got  David Wall and Doreen Wells ( I felt a bit cheated by this as I could see them with the Touring Company) and a Sleeping Beauty matinee which was danced by Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell,the rest as they say is history. 

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I am amazed that anyone who's first ballet was Pierrot Lunaire ever wanted to see another one!  Congratulations, you must have been a VERY sophisticated and cultured girl.  Luckily mine was Swan Lake otherwise I doubt if I would still be a fan.

 

Linda

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I was not particularly sophisticated but I had the advantage of innocent ears and no preconceived ideas about what ballet music should sound like in addition I was also exploring opera. As a result I have no problems with Stravinsky or Schoenberg. The one composer who I find a right royal pain is Minkus whose ballet scores are for me little better than so much aural wallpaper.

 

If I had been put off ballet it would have been as a result of the pieces that were in the repertory of the experimental group that MacMillan in his infinite wisdom decided should replace the old touring company. The fact is that with the exception of Monotones II, which is a masterpiece, the works being performed on that tour were earnest and dull. I was lucky in that I had seen the old touring company and the main company and as a result I knew that Lazarus and the rest of experimental works were not typical of the ballet repertory.If that had been my first experience of ballet I would like to think that the Ashton work would have convinced me of the worth of ballet as an art form but it would have been a close run thing.

 

MacMillan disbanded the touring company because the Opera House Board, which was in financial difficulties, had decided that it was too expensive to run. In its place MacMillan set up the small experimental group to tour the provinces.What I find strange about this is that it does not seem to have occurred to anybody to find out what the audience might like to see. I have always wondered how many people were put off ballet as a result of this change in artistic direction. It is noticeable that Lazarus never became part of the repertory.

 

My regular ballet going started right at the end of the Ashton directorship.During MacMillan's directorship it was said by the "regulars" that it was MacMillan's ambition to get rid of them and have new ballet audience.It was never clear to me where this new audience was going to come from but it did strike me that with the experimental group I had had a brush with what MacMillan wanted for his company and the house. You might say that I had seen the future and it did not work.The one thing that ballet goers of the 1970's would have found strange about later developments is the reduction in the repertory, the neglect of Ashton's works particularly Fille which was performed annually and the over reliance placed the nineteenth century full length ballets to put bottoms on seats. If you had told any of the 1970's" regulars" that the Royal Ballet would in due course acquire La Bayadere and Don Quixote they would not have believed you. I somehow feel that it was not what MacMillan had in mind either.  

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I was just flicking through my old programmes and noticed something pretty cool.

 

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my first ballet experience! :D

 

My then girlfriend (now good friend and ballet buddy) was quite the ballet fan, but seldom had anyone to go with, so I offered to go with her. I remember that, actually, I was probably more excited than she was in the weeks leading up to it! As my school days had left me with a lingering reticence to publicly declare an interest in things not stereotypically associated with male peers, I suspect it was quite reassuring to have an 'excuse' to indulge exploring something like ballet under the pretence of being a supportive boyfriend. 

 

I saw Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at the Bristol Hippodrome on 19th May 2011. As an introduction to dance, I can quite see why Matthew Bourne is so spectacularly popular. It had all the hallmarks of the musicals I'd seen every Christmas in the West End with my family as a child. In fact the only discomforting thing seeing a dance show for the first time was the anticipation of them opening their mouths to finally sing, which of course never came! The plot cantered along at a jolly ol' lick and there was nothing too scary for the first-timer.

 

It was great fun, and I enjoyed it immensely. The only problem was, though, there was very little en pointe and not a tutu in sight! I felt like I'd had a slightly watered down version of the ballet experience. So I requested that next time we booked into something more traditional. 

 

I guess you can't get more traditional than going to see The Nutcracker at Christmas (in this case, danced by the Russian State Ballet Of Siberia), so that's what we did! To this day it's still not my favourite ballet, it's a bit frothy for me. And, if I'm honest, the company weren't brilliant. But it was my first introduction to the classical style, and I knew instinctively that's what I enjoyed the most, at least at that point. But what I really wanted was a hybrid of the two things I'd seen so far, really. Something with classical style choreography, but with a more contemporary staging.

 

Cue Northern Ballet's Beauty And The Beast. In April 2012, this was the ballet that finally clinched my passion for ballet. Martha Leebolt's pas de trois with Kenneth Tindall and Ashley Dixon did it for me. I'd never seen anything like it, and to this day Martha holds a dear place in my ballet-going heart as a result. We were lucky enough to have a back-stage tour afterwards, and taped to my ticket is a piece of foil confetti from the finale of the show that I picked up from the stage. 

 

I thought that was it, I was hooked after my first three ballets. But there was to be one more milestone. The pas de deux between Sergeant Troy (Iain Mackay) and Bathsheba (Elisha Willis) at the end of Act 1 of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Far From The Madding Crowd on 20th June 2012 literally took my breath away. They've been 'my company' ever since that day, as you'll probably gather from my profile picture, and I have adored every single expedition up the M5 I've made since then. :)

 

So, that's how I got into ballet! It took me nearly a year to see my first three ballets. Two years on from that... 

 

Well, I'm up to twenty-nine now. :D

Edited by BristolBillyBob
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My first was Etudes danced by the London's Festival Ballet the principal dancers were John Gilpin ,Toni Lander and Flemming Flindt ,I was hooked,I loved that company always a joy to watch.

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So, that's how I got into ballet! It took me nearly a year to see my first three ballets. Two years on from that... 

 

Well, I'm up to twenty-nine now. :D

Well, BBB, you're doing a lot better than I did in my first 3 years! 3 RB performances in the first year, plus maybe a couple from ENB, was my lot. Then another 3 RBs in the second year, and then I start losing count ...

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I took someone to see their first ballet this afternoon! Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. :)

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Am excited because thanks to ds four people I know are getting their first taste of Ballet tonight when they see Btuk's The Little Mermaid.

They are going because they are relations but you never know, they might get the Ballet bug!

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New to posting here but have been lurking for a while.

 

The first ballet I saw was Romeo and Juliet by the RB at the Bristol Hippodrome. I saw Viviana Durante and Bruce Samson. I was 8 years old so didn't really take a lot in of it but I was lucky to see a few years later at the same place, BRB in Romeo and Juliet with Marion Tait.

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Welcome to the Forum, Bravissima35.  Thanks for your memory!  I only saw Marion Tait perform Juliet once, right at the end of her principal career in November 1994.  She was so sumbsumed within the role, I would be more inclined to say I didn't see Marion Tait - I saw Juliet.  Her Romeo was Joseph Cipolla.  It was a performance so wonderful it is etched into my memory forever!

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Did *they* like it? :)

 

They did indeed! They loved it. In fact, I think they enjoyed it more than did on this particular occasion! :)

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New to posting here but have been lurking for a while.

 

The first ballet I saw was Romeo and Juliet by the RB at the Bristol Hippodrome. I saw Viviana Durante and Bruce Samson. I was 8 years old so didn't really take a lot in of it but I was lucky to see a few years later at the same place, BRB in Romeo and Juliet with Marion Tait.

 

Welcome indeed! Oh, to see the likes of BRB and RB at the Hippodrome! The Hippodrome ballet scene is very odd these days. The Russian State Ballet Of Siberia who, to be as charitable as possible, aren't A-list, play to packed-out houses every year. English National Ballet's Le Corsaire on the other hand, at the same price and with Alina Cojocaru and Vadim Muntagirov dancing the leads, have swathes of seats left unsold. What's the phrase? "This is why we can't have nice things."  ;)

Edited by BristolBillyBob
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