What came of the weekend? Well, one highlight was an evening at the ballet.
The program featured a new dance by a guy whose name I forgot but who normally does Beyoncé music videos and is generally considered a “big deal”. The piece was made for Natalia Osipova who, as the reigning prima of the Royal Ballet, is definitely a big deal–and with a meaty theme of Medusa I had hoped it would be terrific. Alas, it wasn’t. I kept wanting it to be Martha Graham’s Medea or a novel by Madeline Miller, but it was just a soulless sequence that never added up to a story. What was utterly electric, though, was the audience in the thrall of Ms Osipova. The instant she appeared you could sense that everyone in the theatre had come specifically to watch her. I haven’t seen that in ballet before; the closest I’ve experienced was seeing Renee Fleming at the Met, or when Juan Diego Flores sang his encore. It’s a moment of shared energy that makes me love sitting with all the people in the dark.
The other two pieces were ones I’d seen before, both by my favourite choreographers. Flight Pattern in particular hit me hard. It’s a piece about migration and refugees that is both heartbreaking and bleak and starkly beautiful with hope and despair. At one point a woman cradles a coat as if it’s her child, and the feeling of loss when she realises the coat is empty is devastating. But then she pick up the coat, collects everyone else’s coats and carries them offs stage. At one point she stumbles and all the others lift her up and steady her so she can continue on her way. It moved me to tears. Did each coat represent someone she had lost? Or the losses of others that she’s helping to bear? Yes, all of that.
Next morning I went out to Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally as the locals call it, for London’s largest antiques and vintage fair.
The place was huge and packed with young and old, and in a fit of self restraint I did not buy all the things. Only one blue and white china planter that is still wrapped, but which elicited such a gleeful smile from the ancient lady who sold it to me that I just couldn’t resist.