12/01/2014 by syrbal-labrys
Yesterday was eaten up. The day I’d somewhat dreaded since Mid-November arrived. We were going to Seattle. I can count on my fingers the times I’ve gone into the city since the WTO mess in 1999 and have fingers left over.
We promised my Manchild’s Beloved we would take her to the ballet she had been begging to see for as long as we’ve known her: Sendak’s Nutcracker Suite. Personally, I’d never gone to see it before now in its announced final season, because I LIKED the traditional ‘candy land’ things-delighting-children theme of the usual performances.
The allegedly ‘darker’ performance with Sendak re-writing the girl-star as pre-pubescent instead of a seven year old just kind of squicked me out and made the “godfather-toymaker-judge” Drosselmeier seem creepy and pedophilic. But since I’ve always loved Sendak’s art in his children’s books, I figured I could get through the tweaked ballet.
Expecting holiday traffic on the first weekend after Black Friday, we left early — at 1530 for a 1730 performance. The traffic was shockingly light. Even with the long spiraling line to get into the parking garage across from McCaw Hall, we were in our seats well before curtain time. And the Sendak “curtain” was very endearing.
The music was nice, and this is the performance where students — many of them children — get to dance on stage with the professional dancers. That must be so exciting and empowering to those youthful dancers! And they were adorable. They were my favorite thing in the ballet.
But other things were NOT my favorite things. One was a small bit of stupidity — when the cage brings in a “peacock” to dance in one of the non-Candyland Sendak replacements. A peacock is a cock, a male bird. The female of the species is referred to as a peahen. The peacock is the one with the comb and fancy tail. So why, oh why, was the fancy tail and comb on a female dancer? Why could not a male soloist strut literally, his stuff? Because America cannot wrap its collective mind around prettiness being a possible male thing?
The other things were not minor and offended me deeply. The first was a “curse” from the Mouse King on a female doll — she was cursed to be “ugly”! So female beauty is STILL required? And then, the final insult was such that had I been attending alone I think I would have gotten up and walked out. The evil and terrifying Mouse King and all his minions were portrayed in Moslem/Middle Eastern costuming.
Now, they’ve done this ballet the entire time we’ve lived here. So it did not begin with the latest binge of Moslem-hate, I don’t think. But it bothers me the more for that — why give a racial/religious cast to the villains? Specially since it was all to “freshen” what Sendak saw as a tired theme and make it more child accessible, this reeks of telling children to fear and hate anything dressed like the rodent perils…thus the entire Islamic world. I found this exceedingly offensive. I am deeply grateful this is the last season of this particular rendition of The Nutcracker.
After we left the performance, with the Beloved saying she’d prefer a less child-oriented ballet next time (doesn’t EVERYone know the Nutcracker is a children’s tale?), we went to dinner at Palomino’s. We had not been there in years, but dinner was the best part of the evening for me. But walking there from a parking garage at the Hilton was the surreal part of the evening. It was very cold, but not raining and I thought the city would be a-light and alive with holiday shoppers. A-light it was, but the streets were empty and stores all closed even though it was not yet eight in the evening…as in the picture above. The entire three floor mall complex in which Palomino’s is the top floor was all closed and empty to my utter surprise.
We ate, and drank….and wondered at the lack of “merry” in the city. We knew there had been some protests about the racist debacle of justice in Ferguson, but it seemed strange that it would so shut down the city on a Sunday with the holidays looming so near. We drove home on nigh empty freeways. It felt strange and portentous — as if a future decay of a once beloved city was previewed for us on that night.