By Anisa Arsenault
Planning is over-rated, especially in New York City. A spontaneous night out led me to discover a way to get last-minute discounted tickets to the New York Ballet Company for only $20.
They’re called “Rush Tickets” and if you are a high school, college, or graduate student with a valid school ID, you can buy up to two rush tickets for $20. The tickets are sold up until performance time or until sold out, and must be purchased on the day of the show at the ticket window inside the theater. But keep in mind, not all ballets offer student rush tickets. You can find out if your details on NYCBallet.com each Monday during performance weeks.
Ballet should be on every New Yorker’s bucket list.
If you haven’t experienced it, the inside of the Koch Theater at Lincoln Center feels like prom, but in a good way. Circle lights that resemble diamonds line the theater, accentuating the spherical chandelier that glitters from the ceiling. An orchestra in front of the stage makes the whole affair even fancier.
As the music swelled and the lights dimmed before my first ballet ever, I tried to compose myself in a prim and proper way. I couldn’t help but think, “Here I am at the ballet, officially part of New York’s high society.”
To my surprise, this ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet was goofy and the audience was allowed to laugh. Without sacrificing talent, the dancers playing Mercutio and Benvolio pranced around stage, playfully trying to cheer up gloomy Romeo.
If you are attending the ballet for the first time, like me, here are some things I learned that will make your experience better.
It is a good idea to review the plot of whatever story you’re seeing before attending the ballet. There is no dialogue to clarify or move things along, so familiarizing yourself with the story line beforehand will allow for a comprehensive enjoyment of the whole performance.
Recently, I went back to the ballet to see the Ballanchine/Tschaikovsky performance. Ballanchine is the choreographer, famous for ballets such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Tschaikovsky, the composer, also wrote the music for each of the mentioned ballets. This ballet was not performed as a story in the way that Romeo and Juliet was, so it was much more serious.
The two and a half hour performance featured three separate sections, allowing for brief intermissions and variation that held my attention. The first, entitled Serenade, was intended to be romantic: a male dancer spends the duration searching for and pursuing a particular ballerina amongst the group of dancers. I had to suppress a laugh at how dramaticthe choreography was, calling for the lead ballerina to throw herself to the floor and spend large chunks of time acting helpless.
The second section, Mozartiana, was more upbeat. It featured four adorable little girls who definitely held their own. The final section, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, was the longest and most impressive, involving both long solo performances and carefully synchronized group dances.
Both of my ballet experiences have left me with conflicting emotions:
1. Awe at the level of talent and gracefulness
2. Severe disappointment that I’ll never be flexible enough to even consider being a ballerina.
Now that I’ve seen two ballets and am an expert, I prefer and would recommend the story-type performance. Characters, costume changes, and a plot engage the audience and allow them to appreciate the dancing even more.
Reality set in after I left the theater. Many patrons headed to their respective limos while I set off for the subway. But for a few hours, I got to be part of the elite social scene. Thanks to student rush deals, I am that much closer to completing the Lincoln Center trifecta (Ballet, Philharmonic, Opera). I better start thinking about grad school; a student I.D. is like gold in NYC.