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When going to the ballet… Tips for amateurs + review of The Geneva Ballet’s Romeo and Juliette

A while ago a friend of mine invited me to go to the ballet with her. The only ballet I have ever seen is when my friend Toelashka did ballet and modern dancing back in high school. I vividly remember her showing me a video and some of the routines that she had to master for her exam. Either than that, I had pretty much no clue what ballet is about.

The show that we watched is Romeo and Juliette (there’s no typo here) and I must say, I was really impressed. It was clear from the start that many hours went into perfecting the routines and the dancers were in perfect shape. My only criticism would be the lack of diversity in the dancers. I only spotted one Asian female dancers and the rest I could not tell apart. This made it especially difficult to tell who was Romeo and who was Juliette’s family. I think it’s because it is a ballet company from Geneva and there aren’t that many ballet dancers from other ethnicities? Either way, some diversity would have added a nice touch.

One of my favourite scenes was when Romeo discovers that Juliette had died. The emotion with which they performed the act was incredible. I might have shed a tear – I don’t remember. There was also a scene where the female dancers practically spent about 5 minutes on their toes. It looked graceful, but I imagined it must have been painful to rehearse and then perform it all over the world.

I rate the show a resounding 9 out of 10. Diversity in the dancers would have made it a perfect 10. Would I go again? A resounding yes!

There were many instances where my mind wandered away with me. I guess because I am an amateur at this thing. I did make a mental note to write about this experience and give tips for those who, like me, are not frequent guests to the ballet.

You know when you’re at a really fancy dinner and there is more cutlery than just the usual fork, knife and spoon? I’m one of those people who does not yet know which to use for which course and usually look at the person next to me or at the host then mimic what they do. Going to the ballet was the same for me. I watched what those who are seemingly experienced were doing and mimicked them.

The first rule is to switch off your phone. Someone’s phone rang during the performance and people were really annoyed. It is only good manners to switch your phone off because it distracts people. If you have forgotten to switch it off and it rings, God forbid, don’t answer and don’t take it out. The theatre is dark so the light is also a distraction. Rather switch it off inside your bag without taking the phone out.

Secondly, do not walk out before the performance is over or before there is a break. If you are seated in the middle of the seats, others have to stand up in order for you to pass to get out. This is highly annoying for them and for the people in the row behind you because you distract them from the show. It is also disrespectful to the performers who have put in the time to perfect their performance.

Clap when everyone else claps. I promise you there were times when I was really impressed by something, but I knew that this was not a rock concert where I could scream whenever I wanted to. Those who know these kind of things know where and when to applause. Rather wait for them then express how impressed you are.

I’m sure those with experience in this thing have more tips, but in the end the most important one for me would be to ENJOY it, especially if you paid for it. R1000 is not petty change to all of us.

A special thanks to The Joburg Theatre.

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Article written by:

Richmond Sajini is a musician and media entrepreneur in the public relations, television, radio and retail spaces in South Africa. He studied Public Relations and Communication at the University of Johannesburg and has worked on brands such as Coca Cola, Tsogo Sun, Heineken as well as the South African National Roads Agency. He has been told to shut up many times by people who don’t understand that he is in love with the sound of his own voice. For this reason he decided to start his own blog where he would share his thoughts and experiences without inhibition. Visit his blog, www.randomramblings.co.za and follow him on Twitter @richmondsajini.

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