Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Ballet Nation

By awoodall
Sunday, December 23rd, 2007 at 10:40 am in Uncategorized.

You can say one thing about Oakland: We appreciate our ballet. You couldn’t miss the love for The Oakland Ballet Friday night at the opening night of “The Nutracker.” I’ve never heard so much clapping and cheering for ballerinas. I almost expected them to holler something like “Hello Oakland! You ready to get down?” like rock stars at a reunion concert. The crowd would have roared “Yeah! Bring it on!”  The Oakland East Bay Symphony, playing Tchaikovsky’s score, was on fire. The Paramount Theatre, glowing in all its Art Deco glory, was packed in the center section, and the wings were pretty full too, with fans in everything from hoodies and hip-hop baggy jeans to elegant black dresses. (Although two women went a little too far with their hats that we had to insist they take off for the sake of our view.) I heard German speakers, Spanish speakers, city-slang, high-brow discourse and lots of laughter. 

The audience went ga ga over the “Arabian dance” (the “coffee” piece), which the dancers turned into a sultry duet. Someone called out suggestively — humorously though. The music alone is beguiling (try to find Duke Ellington’s version of it, called ”Arabesque Cookie”). And the Pad de Deux near the end was languid and romantic. You’d hear someone burst into applause even when the timing was wrong. But it was nothing compared to the ovation for the dancers and their maestro Ronn Guidi, likened by one fan to a Don Quixote in ballet slippers for his role in reviving The Oakland Ballet. (How many ballet directors have a fan base?) Anyway, it was great fun to see our city all turned out for the ballet. We have the Raider Nation and the Ballet Nation.

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