|Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo at Swan Lake performance (photo: BalletFocus.com)|
The moment I sat down in the lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House for a day at the ballet, I felt like Angie Dickinson people-watching in the film Dressed to Kill, minus the silk dress and high heels.
Mom, my grandmother and me were there to see the 7:30pm performance of Swan Lake starring prima ballerina Misty Copeland. A chatty, nice Korean driver drove us from New Jersey to New York City. Since we arrived early at 3pm, we stat on the bench and people-watched for hours. We remarked on the very casual style patrons wore (slovenly shorts, sneakers and tank tops), but there were also the people who dressed to the nines and looked rich. One woman in a cocktail dress and carried a small shopping bag from Bergdorf Goodman, as her nine-year-old daughters wore pretty shin-length dresses, some lace, some silk. A woman who sharing the bench with us remarked “When I was growing up, the children wore the short dresses, while the grown women wore the long dresses.” The woman who said this was from Jersey too, but she looked like a New Yorker with her Lisa Stansfield pixie cut and all black top and pants.
The dinner at the Grand Tier restaurant inside the Metropolitan Opera House was as gilded and grand as Great Gatsby’s mansion. It was a birthday for both mom and grandmother, and my mother had thought to surprise my grandmother with a slice of chocolate mousse cake with a candle perched on top.
Once we satisfied our appetites, we got into the theater and it was packed. The people applauded after every famous number. I could tell it wasn’t there first time seeing the show. The audience frequently cheered like they were a Yankees game, which made for a great collective viewing experience. It was fitting that Swan Lake opened with Prince Siegfried’s birthday party, considering we had just come from a birthday dinner. The sheer curtains opened slowly where we could see the lavish palace stage setting that gave the effect of a dollhouse come to life. My eyes frequently focused on the feet of the dancers. It’s always the feet I tell you where the magic happens. Thankfully, my mother got to use her gilded opera glasses I gave to her for her birthday.
The day at the ballet felt like beautiful dream where we met different personalities in the style of movie. Life really does cinematically sometimes. Walking down the steps in front of the Metropolitan Opera House, it felt very Cinderella-like with our Korean driver driving the ice-out pumpkin coach. When we finally got back to New Jersey, I went to bed and I thought Did that really happen? The whole day proved that experience is almost always what matters the most. Ouisa Kittredge said it best in Six Degrees of Separation: it was an experience!