I can understand people raising an eyebrow at me – a scruffy, beer-swilling, foul-mouthed oik – choosing to go to a ballet. However, my sister and I had bought our Nan a ticket to see a performance of Swan Lake at our local theatre for Christmas, and I decided that I wanted to go too. It may surprise you, but I am actually very interested in dance. I do not, let me be clear, mean that I watch Strictly Come Dancing.
Firstly, there is something deeply fascinating to me about repeated patterns and synchronicity, from birds flying in formation through to plant and mineral structures.
Secondly, I have a healthy respect and admiration for people who can dance well, since I have the physical co-ordination of the average stroke victim. The precision, the understanding of where every part of your body is in space at any given time, it’s a whole level of skill that I can never hope to obtain.
While my interest is normally captured by artists like Marquese Scott, or physical performances like those from Cirque du Soleil, or Stomp, it doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy traditional dance forms too.
So, yesterday we headed off to the ballet. We had chosen good seats; the stage was directly in front of us, at exactly the same eye-level that specialists say you should set your PC monitor at work. The orchestra were warming up in the pit, an incoherent clash of noises, punctuated by the occasional comedy trumpet-fart.
Eventually the lights dimmed, the music resolved itself into an actual piece, and after a brief period the curtain rose. I’m not sure what I had been expecting to see behind that curtain, but what was revealed was much more like a play than I had thought. The backdrop for the stage was of a fairytale ballroom, and the dancers were all wearing elegant costumes, and they even had props too. The female dancers, while being slight and delicate looking, were powerful and graceful and impressive.
The males dancers, well…
Anime fans will understand precisely the experience that I am going to refer to here. There is a 1994 animated film from Ghibli Studios called Pom Poko, which is about a community of raccoon dogs fighting to save their home from the encroachment of human developers. As engaging as the story is, all you will remember is –
As soon as you notice their furry little scrotums, it becomes your immediate visual focus in all scenes for the rest of the film, and there is not a damned thing you can do to look away.
Ballet, as it happens, is a lot like Pom Poko.
The male dancers were wearing tights. Just tights. They may as well have been dipped in paint from the waist down. The best visual comparison I could come up with, and one I am actually still pleased with myself over now, was of a handful of potatoes in a sock.
The view from the back was not much more delicate; never have I seen such crisply defined buttocks and arse-cracks. The effect was quite impressive on their legs, which are obviously insanely powerful by virtue of being a dancer, but still…
Everywhere, just balls. Testicles, snugly tucked inside white tights, just…there. Jumping. Spinning. Lunging.
I had no idea about the story of Swan Lake, and was really trying to follow the plot based solely on the dancing and the music, but –
During the interval, our conversation inevitably turned towards the scrotal spectacle. My sister’s eyesight is a little bit off, so she hadn’t initially been exposed to the finer details. It was only later on in the second half when one of the more…endowed…dancers appeared, leaping, with a frankly unmistakeable shaft in his matador pants that she was finally able to appreciate what we had been raising eyebrows at.
Whilst I do not speak for the gay community, I need to point out to male readers that a man wearing tight, thin trousers with an obvious underpant-free genital bulge is NOT the erotic equivalent of a woman wearing a tight t-shirt and no bra. In fact, while you’re all very proud of them, if there was one part of you that I would actively choose NOT to see outlined in fabric, it would be your bollocks. No offence.
…I would also like to remind everyone that this was a Christmas present for my Nan…