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Dance

On Seeing the Nutcracker Suite as an Adult [by Stacey Harwood-Lehman]

Several years ago, a colleague who was leaving NYC for L.A., asked me what should be on her “bucket list” of things to do before heading west. “See a performance of the New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker Suite,” I said, without hesitation. That was my answer then, and it would be my answer today, even more emphatically so, having taken in a performance last Wednesday afternoon.

I can’t recall the first time I saw George Balanchine’s "Nutcracker" but I’m certain I was a child. Over the years I've had my doubts about how an adult could enjoy a ballet so geared to a child’s sensibility. Those doubts are put to rest. The show is magical, for any audience, at any age. The music, the costumes, the sets, the dancing! 

My sister Amy and I got our seats late in the game, and I was surprised to discover that the theater was mostly sold out by the time I logged on to get our tickets. The best available that we could afford were in the back row of the second ring—still excellent and far better than the fifth ring $1.00 seats that my parents subscribed to way back when.

One of the great pleasures this time around was in observing the audience. So many children! Little girls in their fanciest dresses, all lace and ribbons and embroidery; little boys in velvet suits and bow ties,  clutching the hands of a parent, also dressed to the nines, as if they could leap on stage and join the show.

Under most circumstances any noise from the audience during a performance—talking, unwrapping candy--would be an annoying distraction, but the sounds of awestruck children throughout the house marveling when the Christmas tree soars from 12 to 41 feet, or gasping when giant mice overrun the stage, or shrieking with delight when Harlequin and Columbine emerge life-sized from their gift-wrapped boxes, and laughing when they fold in on themselves to be put away, filled me with pleasure. “Where did they go?” whispers a curious boy. Even the occasional crying toddler was a joyful sound. Kudos to those parents who decided the time was right to bring their children to this annual spectacle.

It might be too late to find tickets for this year's run (maybe not?) but it's not too soon to plan for next.

-- sdl


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Radio

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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