Blasé at the Ballet: An Outing to See The Nutcracker

I woke up one morning and put on an evening gown. That’s how you know that it’s going to be a good day. It was a pale pink, satin, spaghetti-strapped, form-fitting evening gown with a large leg slit up the thigh, that I hadn’t yet worn out of the house. It’s the dress that makes me look the most like a Bond girl and I paired it with the coat that makes me most look like Cruella De Ville.

Please don’t ask me why my mirror looks like that. It came like that.

I promised myself that after being locked in doors for so long, away from my beloved New York City, that I would spend every opportunity I could traipsing around the city. At Christmastime, there is no shortage of high-brow things that I could do and wanted to do in the city. There’s seeing the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall, the Juilliard String Quartet play at the Philharmonic, Yo-Yo Ma play the cello on a Christmas tour, and a Lincoln Center production of the Nutcracker, all of which would be ridiculously expensive.

The outfit prep

I decided on going to the Nutcracker with a friend. When I told people what I was doing I said that I was “going to see the ballet for a matinee today,” as if it wasn’t all already poetic enough. Sig, my friend and fellow RA, accompanied me, since I thought that he would appreciate it the most. Sig is interested in form and the ideas of masculinity and femininity and how they are both at play, no matter what, during ballet. 

I’m ready for my close up Mr. DeMille”

We set off that morning, getting breakfast bagels while waiting for the train. We made it to Lincoln Center, which in itself already looks like a palace for music. A few minutes before the curtain, we took our seats in an upper balcony that was so steep that I was afraid of tipping forward and landing in the floor seats. It would break the spirits of anyone with a solid fear of heights.

Sig was also ready for his close up

I’d seen many local productions of the Nutcracker in Valdosta and my father, back in his hey-day, played Drosselmeyer at the Valdosta Dance Arts. I wasn’t sure if I could still be surprised by the show anymore. The ballet was gorgeous. I became swept up in the drama, the discipline, and the way that the music swelled. There’s something about the exaggeration and the scale of, not just ballet, but a show like this. I enjoyed everything about the performance, from the perfect set pieces to the scattered applause from the audience when they weren’t sure when to clap. 

The second performance I got to see that day was of all the adorable children who were twirling in the hallways outside of the auditorium during the intermission, inspired by the ballerinas on stage. Tchikavosky would have been proud. They were all wearing classic Christmas outfits consisting of green and red plaid dresses, hair ribbons, and white stockings that awoke something biological in me that said, “well maybe having just one child won’t hurt me.” Of course, had just one of those kids been snot-nosed and sticky-fingered and crying in the concessions line instead of twirling cutely in the aisles then I instead would have felt the urge to tie my fallopians into a square knot and cauterize them. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.  

The second half of the show blew Sig and me away. Between the flawless music, glittery outfits, and all around poise, the whole performance was absolutely stunning. I always loved the eccentricity of the show– the chaotic fever dream quality of what Clara experiences at night with the dancing mice and sugar plum fairies. The final sequence, in which the sugar plum fairy danced with the prince, demonstrated outstanding human balancing capabilities with every fluid movement made on pointe, making for money well spent.

“Blondies,” a sports bar I attended as a child, was our next stop. At the time, they were listed as the seventh best wing place in the city, but I had the second best wings in the city and they weren’t as good as these. My aunt took me on a field trip to find the best wings in the city when I was a kid because hot wings were, and still are, my favorite food. 

So, I sat there, in my pink satin Bond-girl dress after the ballet, with the entire bodice of my dress padded with napkins, and inhaled about ten mild, bleu-cheese-drenched chicken wings. Sig and I fit in so well at the sports bar, him in his eye makeup and me in my evening gown, discussing human psychology, creationist stories, Charles Dickens, and the collective works of Aristotle and Plato. Then there was, of course, our discussion of the ballet, which also, clearly, endeared us to our fellow patrons. 

Not a drop on me

For some last minute Christmas shopping before we headed home for break, Sig and I descended on The Strand. If it were up to me, this is how I would spend all of my days. If money wasn’t a thing and neither was school work, I would spend my time being as blasé as possible. I would still be engaged with the things that I care about, because the things that I care about, I care about enormously, but everything else could be replaced with me sitting with my feet up, watching ballet, eating hot wings, and perusing the bookshelves at the Strand.

The day we chose to do this also happened to be Santa con, a day in which people travel into the city dressed as Santa Claus and do bar crawls. Who says that Americans don’t have culture? Nothing has ever made me laugh harder than a bunch of clearly drunk people dressed like Santa Claus swarming the city and moving in herds. I laugh but at the same time, I sincerely hope that these people don’t vote. It gets pretty messy pretty quickly, which is almost hard to believe. 

There was a lot packed into our trip into the city: the Nutcracker, Blondies, the Strand, and Santa con, all of which came right at the heels of an already busy and eventful semester and year. The Nutcracker was a much needed break and send-off to the year before I go back to my parents’ house for the remainder of the holiday season. 

Happy Holidays!

The Tragic Queen,

Raquel

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