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Jun. 5th, 2013

nisaba: (Diamond Ring)
Long time no post, but last night was just one of those nights, and LJ is the place for just one of those posts.

It started with leaving work and meeting Will, then walking down to the river by the Botantical gardens.  A fearful walk, as runners zoomed past on the narrow path with no guardrail.  But a nice walk, by the water, in the fresh air, as the sun set pink behind us and turned the cliffs ahead a blazing orange.

We crossed Brisbane river at Goodwill Bridge, a pedestrian only bridge that should have been lovely to amble across, except for the frighteningly fast cyclists and the barrelling runners.Twice I crossed the oncoming traffic lane, more in fear of my life, or at least my current state of reasonable health, than any road. On that side however was a brilliant view of Brisbane, lights coming on ahead of the dimming sunset.

A line of posh restaurants edge the river on the south side.  We poked at menus, but eventually ended up a little back from the river, at Mado, a Turkish place my brief googling had found earlier in the afternoon.  Mado is lusciously decked out, the full Turkish experience with rich reds and golds.  The food was equally luscious - a starter of fried halloumi, a dish hard to get wrong but this was a particularly good example (and believe me, I've had a few), followed by ali kalik - chicken shish in a gorgeous sauce of yoghurt and garlic and "secret" spices, served with warm turkish bread.  I love turkish bread, and the latest fad for most sandwich shops to serve it is one I approve of highly.

From dinner, we walked through the South Bank parklands to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), stopping only to fight with the Cold Stone Ice-Creamery (and lose to a generous scoop of mint choc-chip icecream with chocolate sauce).

We were at QPAC for my birthday present from Will - the Bolshoi Ballet performing Le Corsaire.  The Bolshoi haven't travelled to Australia since 1994, and it's also unusual that for this trip, they're only performing in Brisbane.  Before we moved to Brisbane, a friend in the UK once asked what kind of cultural things there were to do here.  Will and I looked at each other blankly... there's probably a museum?  An art gallery?

We've been proven wrong and delightfully so.  The Bolshoi Ballet is a superb feather in the cap, but we've also treated ourselves to an array of dance and acrobatic performances during the Brisbane Festival last September, a symphony under the stars on a warm night, national and international comedians drop by (of the big names we've seen Stephen K Amos and Ross Noble, and Adam Hills is lined up for July), Heston Blumenthal graced us with his presence (at vast expense mind), and Professor Brian Cox is hosting a night of science in August (already booked!).  There's much much more, this is just what we've picked.  It's not London, but it's not bad either.  Certainly not the cultural desert we were expecting.

Anyway, we walked into QPAC to find tutus hanging from the ceiling and worn pointe shoes tied by their ribbons to the bar.  Ah, the ballet.

It was no surprise to find a full house.  Our seats were in one of the many balconies, second row... from the back... but the view was pretty decent.  The ballet itself - well, the plot leaves a lot to be desired.  First performed in 1856 based loosely on a poem written in 1814, the plot features slavery and rape with a dollop of racism.  Fortunately, the choreography didn't concern itself with the plot for most of its two hours and forty minutes.  The more enjoyable plot went like this:

  Act I
  Scene I
  Look how well we can dance in a market place.

  Scene II
  Look how well we can dance in a cave.

  Act II
  Scene III
  Look how well we can dance in a garden.  Bunches of us.  Really good garden dancing.

  Act III
  Scene IV
  Look how well we can dance at a wedding.

  Scene V
  Look how badly we can attempt to emulate a shipwreck on a stage, complete with comedy Titantic moment at the prow of the ship, and the ship listing about and breaking up.  Minimal dancing.

I loved it.  The dancing was truly superb, extremely technical and complex.  Le Corsaire isn't perhaps the most beautiful of ballets in that ethereal soft grace way some ballets have, but it looks one of the more difficult and I was completely impressed with the execution of the steps and the cleverness of the choreography.  From the solo performances to the scores of corps de ballet, every step just looked stunning.  It was interrupted by each principal and soloist coming forward for applause at the end of each piece, but this is a very traditional ballet and frankly, they deserved it.  Although I suspect the dancers were used to the applause running on a bit longer than this Aussie audience was willing to give them - occasionally a ballerina was left acknowledging a single hand clapping, and we finished ten minutes early.

Still, just gorgeous.  Le Corsaire is a real feat of precise athleticism draped in elegance.

It may be another twenty years before the Bolshoi return to Australia.  I'm grateful to have had this chance to take in one of the best ballet companies in the world.  One of those nights.

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