Wednesday 28 February 2018


It is almost March. Half an hour to go, and we are in the middle of a snowstorm. My toes were frozen in the car a few minutes ago but our lovely warm house is heating me up nicely. In 27 countries around the world, across 927 screens, audiences just witnessed Shakespeare transformed once again into a different mode of art. Ballet this time. Our auditorium in Saffron Walden wasn't full because of the snow, but for those of us who were able to attend the screening, a cup of hot coffee or a glass of white wine eased us into our seats. Some of us may have had a chocolate brownie as well... hey, it was gluten free! Surely that's healthy?
Ryoichi Hirano burst on to our stage (well, our screen) and we were, to a woman, transfixed. His presence, his beauty, his actorly ability to transmit jealousy (the most potent of our emotions?) was unrivalled by any of the other dancers, even though every other dancer was obviously perfection embodied.

The youthful delights of spring and first love in Act Two contrast with the winter and storms of imagined betrayal in Act One. But Ryoichi disappeared and so Act Two was a bit meh for me. I mean, amazing, of course, but I drifted... do you drift when you watch the ballet or the opera? Or while listening to classical music? I am often distracted by the presence of all the other minds in the room, bodily with me, but each of us entering our emotional worlds, separately.

I was glad to return to Ryoichi in the final act. Hair whitened by grief, he was still magnificent, and when Hermione, the wife he thought was lost to him, is revealed to him in a dance of forgiveness, I felt almost as shocked as he was. And glad. I had missed Lauren Cuthbertson too - the ballerina who co-created her own role. A statue coming to life wasn't the only moment that stunned me - a doll masquerading as a baby, with arms and legs moving (ah, modern technology) almost made me miss the bear that wolfs down a poor courtier...

In the outside world, snow flurries awaited us, but the thrill of the performance had us on a high long enough to grab a frozen selfie... I hope you are all keeping warm and finding something to smile about. Google the gorgeous Ryoichi!! Or if such superficial things as a beautiful Principal dancer don't appeal, read Shakespeare - the ballet made me want, made me need, the words that began the dance.