I was keen to take in a performance at the Opera House during my visit to Sydney.

Fortunately, events were being held nightly and tickets were available, so I got to fulfill this dream.


I went with Steph to see the ballet "Firebird & legends" by the Australian Ballet. I had never been to a ballet before and didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be an edifying introduction as it was actually three separate ballets: Les Sylphides (Chopin), Petrouchka (Stravinsky), and Firebird (Stravinsky). I thought they were all excellent.

The first ballet, involving 15 or so dancers at once, was abstract and plotless. Of course I didn't realize this going in, so was scratching my head trying to invent some bizarre story to tie it all together in my mind (until Steph kindly clued me in). Sometimes the search for meaning blinds us from what's right in front of our eyes...

Ultimately Steph gave the first one a thumbs down as a source of entertainment, but I rather took the opposite reaction. Once I understood it was "meaningless" it became possible to appreciate it's true meaning: an account of pure visual beauty. While Steph eventually tired of the repetitive, abstract nature (and I agreed at times), nevertheless I remained enraptured by the continuous motion, the ebb and flow, the shifting overlay of the micro on the macro as I traced the motions of the individual on the grand scheme of the group.

The next two ballets were also good. Petrouchka was a story about puppets that came to life, and it especially hit the mark for me. Because when I consider the archetypical "Ballet" I imagine it originating from an era when people still listened to symphonies and used puppets, so somehow Petrouchka seemed authentic and true to the form. In contrast, the last ballet was a science fiction story and perhaps that's why I never got into it fully.

But when I think back on that night, my mind always wanders back to the first ballet, Les Sylphides. I wonder how something which is emotionless in and of itself, like a plotless ballet (or like a flower, for example), still has the power to invoke emotions in us. What is it about these things that captures and demands our attention? I suppose I'm phrasing the core question (and challenge) that all of Art is searching to answer. I could spend a lifetime contemplating a single flower. How about you?