A few weeks ago I watched Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House. For ballet fans, Swan Lake is a feast - a spectacle of feather tutus and grandeur tangled together within a doomed love story. Carlos Acosta was dancing the lead male and to those not clued-up, he's the Jay Z/Lewis Hamilton/Ryan Gosling of the ballet world.
You know how men get a thrill from watching a load of overpaid numpties kick a ball up and down a field for 90 minutes? I feel the same buzz about these super-talented ballet folk and their magic feet.
Visiting The Royal Opera House and more specifically The Royal Ballet is like a hot bubble bath after being caught in the rain or opening a packet of Lindor truffles and eating four in one go - it's never going to disappoint.
I have my mum to thank for doing what many mums with little girls do and taking me to the ballet from the moment I was tiny. Except I was lucky enough that my mum's own love of ballet spoiled me from the offing and instead of seeing Isle of Man's 20-strong ballet company on tour at Guildford Leisure Centre (nowt wrong with that by the by, all ballet is worthwhile), I was seduced by the splendour of the Royal Ballet Company at The Royal Opera House. I now feel so at home in the place that I could masquerade as a tour guide.
Now, for those people who have never been to a ballet, there are some myths that I should set straight:
- It's not all for posh people.
Yes, yes, The Opera House does have its fair share of fur-clad richkids who order a whole bottle of champagne at each interval when there is barely enough time to drink a glass (trust me on this, I've tried many a time) and view the entire ballet through diamond-encrusted opera glasses from the front row whilst their husbands yawn and look at the rugby scores on their Blackberries - but they're not the only people there (me, for example).
- It doesn't have to be bank-busting pricey.
Yes, yes it can be if you want to hire a whole box to yourself and pretend you're the Queen or insist on front row seats - but you can see a ballet for as little as a fiver (standing) or queue for really decent on-the-day seats at around £30 each - that's less than a meal for two at Pizza Express. And please don't think you'll have a better time there instead..
- It isn't dullsville, honest!
Yes, yes, some ballets are longer and more 'traditional' than others. Don't plump for Manon or Romeo & Juliet if it's your first foray into the world of pointe shoes. For beauty on stage, Swan Lake or Giselle are stereotypically stunning but for character and visual interest, more 'fun' ballets such as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty are to be banked on. A giveaway is if you spot children in the audience - if they can sit through two hours of prancing on stage when they're used to 25 minutes of In The Night Garden, then it can't be too taxing.
Now, if you want to see an utterly magnificent ballet that will make your jaw ache from the marathon of smiling solidly for two hours, you must must see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at The Royal Opera House. I should do the PR for this ballet I love it so much. I defy anyone not to fall in love with it - it's a visual masterpiece -funny, theatrical, original with wonderfully playful choreography and a stunning modern score by Joby Talbot.
And if that outpour doesn't convince you then let the fact that I've dragged Mr B to many a ballet and he hasn't fallen asleep/feigned illness/disappeared during the interval, give you comfort. Trust me on this, he's Northern - half his family would disown him if they thought a Bolton Wanderers fan was living it up in the company of ballerinas and Tchaikovsky..
This post was brought to you with the sound of Joby Talbot, naturally
Swan Lake image © Bill Cooper Pointe shoes image © Favin.com