Some people watch romantic movies when it’s raining outside, but my husband and I took it one step further and drove to Forth Worth this past weekend to see Ballet Frontier of Texas’ presentation of the romantic ballet La Sylphide (1832).
And yes, being the balletomane I am, I brought my copy of “Apollo’s Angel’s” with me to refresh my memory on the ballet’s plot and its historical significance.
For those of you not familiar with La Sylphide, it is one of the world’s oldest surviving “romantic ballets.” It tells the story of a hero (James) who chases the unattainable (the Sylph) and loses his fiancée (Effie) in the process. This ballet premiered during a period of great unrest in Paris and it was a way for people to escape from their every day lives. This is still true today. It was also the first time we saw the female lead (Marie Taglioni) dressed in pink tights, a long white tutu and pointe shoes.
Taglioni set the bar extremely high for future Sylphs. For starters she was not your stereo-typical ballerina. She was not necessarily pretty and was slightly hunched back.
Ironically, it was her hunched back that made her role as the Sylph memorable. When she danced on pointe she would lean forward to compensate for her back giving her movement a bird-like quality. Her movement was so airy and weightless that critics swore she never touched the ground.
This is a hard role to live up to and Tessa Moore gave it her best. Her point work felt a little heavy, but her upper body was strong and her arm movements soft and deliberate. It was her face, sweet and ethereal yet flirtatious, that stuck with me after the performance.
Daniel Westfield (James) gave a very strong and elegant performance. Doing multiple tours followed by a series of jetes is not easy; And yet he made it look effortless.
If you’re not a huge romantic, don’t worry! The ballet had plenty of humor thanks to Gurn (James’ lovesick friend) played by Paul Adams. He gave the ballet just the right amount of silliness without going overboard. He was fun and loveable as Gurn and I think everyone was happy at the end when he married his dream girl Effie.
All in all, it was a great date with my husband. Can’t wait for the next one.