In the Upper Room

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I am thinking Hallowe’en is becoming the traditional time for a trip to NYC to see an American Ballet Theatre performance or 2 at City Center. We took the folks for the second year in a row which means that my Metropolitan Museum of Art letterbox is now a year old. It has gone through maybe 5 – 6 logs this year and is still doing well. Amazing.

Back to our trip. We got into the city early enough to replace Peggy’s Park letterbox then scoot across town and grab some food. Ravenboy was kind enough to set aside 2 complimentary tickets that we picked up along our way.

The folks, Maga11, Toolman Luke & MagaB enjoyed a nice brunch while we ran to meet Ravenboy at the stage door. He offered to sneak backstage to watch the matinee since he can only have 2 comp ticket for each show. The things that go on back stage of a show are amazing. We stood by and watched all of the stars of ABT hustle by, check the call board, and move on to get into costume. It was probably 15 minutes until curtain when we saw one of Raveboy’s friends speed into the building. He looked totally out of breath and wide eyed. “You ok?” Ravenboy asked him. The tall fellow nodded as he was totally out of breath. Fifteen minutes later we saw the same young man, perfectly poised, onstage and in costume.

The folks enjoyed the first show and as we exited the theatre, there was Ravenboy to greet us! We lauded his performance in Mark Morris’ Gong. We were able to follow his every move as he fore told us he would be dressed in solid “orange the color of the gates that were in Central Park.” He was pleased that the first show was complete but he was constantly distracted with thinking about the evening’s performance. He sat across from me at the restaurant we took him to and at one point he seemed to not hear any of us. I asked, “Are you ok?” “Just running over choreography,” he grinned nervously.

Twyla Tharp’s collaboration with composer Philip Glass produced the 40 minute long non-stop aerobic In the Upper Room. Thirteen of ABT’s finest dancers are challenged by Tharp’s modern variations and Glass’ typical phrasing in 6s. Alternating between the stompers in sneakers and ballet crew in red point shoes and flats, the piece builds to a frenetic climax in 9 movements. Sadly, the smoke machine that is to provide the mood for the beginning of piece must have gone crazy and pumped into overtime. The first movement is to start with a smoke filled stage and 2 dancers emerge, much like Patience and Fortitude, guardians of the stage. The smoke did not dissipate until well into the second movement as we saw the ballet crew throwing themselves through the smoke into very difficult jumps and lifts. We found out later that Ravenboy couldn’t even see his own feet and these dancers had to catch young ladies that were running at them from the opposite side of the stage. I cannot imagine what was going through their minds in the blinding fog but not a slip nor miss was visible from the audience. Even though some folks left when they couldn’t see through the second movement, most of the sold out house stayed to rise spontaneously to their feet at the drop of the curtain. Ravenboy is part of one awesome company.

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