Boston has a ballet company called The Boston Ballet Company. I suppose that, depending upon one’s mood, that name is either intuitive or conspicuously unoriginal. And now you know.
Here’s something else to know about Boston’s premier source for ballet-type entertainment stylings: 2013 is its 50th anniversary. It was in honor of that anniversary that the ballet came to the Boston Common a couple Saturdays ago (September 21 – for those of you reading this in the distant future. Also, as long as you future people are reading this can you let me know if Tom Brady will win another Super Bowl?).
Here are some cool things to know about the Boston Ballet Company’s Night of Stars on Boston Common:
- The stage that was built for this event was the largest ever built on the Common (although perhaps not for those of you who are reading this in the distant future. Also, Future Reader, can you let us know if Boston will ever improve light rail coverage in the Southern half of the city?).
- It was completely free
- The selections ranged from classical to modern ballet. The show began with Marius Petipa’s Don Quixote and then moved directly to The Rolling Stones’ Rooster.
- There were lots and lots of kids. I thought that was pretty cool – it’s always nice to be able to share things with one’s children without having to worry so much about making a 7 year old act like a 37 year old.
All in all, we had a great time. Neither of the kids had ever watched any ballet aside from the Nutcracker, or even expressed any particular interest in it, but they still had a great time. Here’s what we did to help things go smoothly:
- Brought some small games (UNO and a couple others) to play while we waited for the show to begin. This was a good idea.
- Brought a blanket to sit on. Next time, I’d probably want to bring another to cover up with. My son got cold and we ended up sitting on the grass and using the blanket to keep warm.
- Brought a bottle of water. Next time, I’d bring more than one. We ran out and had to pay $2/bottle from the vendor set up nearby.
- Gave the kids the option to leave at the intermission. It turned out that my daughter really wanted to stay and my son was okay with staying even though he was getting tired. I stand by the decision to give them the option though. I figure, it’s better to only see half and end on a high note than try and push them too hard and set them up to resist doing new things in the future. Plus, kids are always happy to be given a choice.
- Stopped at Uburger on Tremont St. for dinner before the show started. We had been out for much of the day prior to arriving at the Common, so we weren’t in a position to bring a picnic from home, although I saw a lot of other people who did that and it would’ve been great. In other news, Uburger is pretty tasty.
All in all it was a great time. The ballet itself was cool. I’m not too knowledgeable about ballet, so I can’t review it from the standpoint of a ballet critic. From the standpoint of a regular-guy dad, though, it was great. The music was a nice mix of fun and beautiful. The dancing was amazing inasmuch as it gave the appearance of defying the laws of physics. In addition to the show, it was really fun to see the kids enjoying something new.
Before returning to full time homemaking earlier this summer (that’s summer 2013 for anyone reading this in the distant future. Also, as long as you’re reading, could you perhaps leave a comment letting those of us living in the present know whether the next mayor of Boston does a generally good job? You know, lower crime, better infrastructure, economic growth for people of all income, improved housing options, etc. Thanks. Now back to the sentence I was writing.), before I went back to homemaking, my job included working with a small team to organize annual statewide conferences for a state agency in New Hampshire. That experience made me really appreciate how much effort the Boston Ballet Company’s show last Saturday involved. From lighting, to building the stage, to publicity, to the enormous screens that were set up so the dancing would be visible to people seated further out, to the permits and clearances that must’ve been required, to the performance itself, the Ballet Under the Stars was quite an undertaking – and it was all done for free! That’s pretty amazing, but I can tell you, I’m a lot more likely now to take the kids to the ballet after seeing how great it was in a relaxed, kid-friendly venue.
So the moral of the story is to take advantage of these kinds of things. And not just the ballet. There are a lot of free shows of this sort in Boston (and probably in most cities for that matter). Try them out. And don’t worry if it seems like something the kids may not like as much as you’d hope. The beauty of a free show is that you can walk away whenever you want and all you’ve lost is a few minutes, yet you stand to gain a fun experience and a new interest for yourself and your kids.