A Ballet May be Just What You Need

When I think of ballet, I think of the movie, “Men in Tights” which I happened to catch a little of the other day (the Mel Brooks movie of 1993 is uneven at best). Well fortunately I was asked by my oldest daughter Sarah, to attend the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” on Sunday February 26th at 2 pm and this was no “Men in Tights.” My wife Rita and I went to mainly enjoy the company of my daughter and son-in-law. There was also the promise of some fine dining afterward. I also went because I am familiar with the music to the ballet by Sergei Prokofiev. Now Prokofiev is a quirky Russian composer with an uneven output of classical music. That means there is some music that is captivating and some that is grating and irritating to listen to. “Romeo and Juliet” is of the former and is some of Prokofiev’s finest music. What caught me further by surprise was the excellence of the ballet and the overall presentation with sets and dramatic gestures by the dancers. I was moved by their presentation of this time-old story of thwarted love and family feuding. Honestly how could adults get in the way of such devoted lovers and not encourage their love for one another. Selfishness and pride come to mind.

Three things stood out to me. First was the dancing of the male lead, Anthony Krutzkamp. Now I have been exposed to athletes all of my life and I can tell you this guy is an athlete, yet very supple and effortless. It sort of reminded me of Joe Montana throwing the football. Understated but quite effective. It seems to me professional athletes could learn a thing or two from ballet dancers about flexibility (this is not a new notion!). It would probably help them a lot. Second was the farewell performance of a long-time dancer with the Kansas City Ballet named Kimberly Cowen. I thought how this must have been a very emotional performance for her and while I read she will appear in May at a last “public” performance this had to be a very bittersweet moment for her. For all of the hubbub surrounding someone like Peyton Manning, there are so many professionals dedicated to their art and craft that go unnoticed and under appreciated. Lastly, of course, is the Kansas City Symphony, a significant partner in this production. Sometimes when ballet music is performed as orchestral music (or a suite) without dancers, the music is played at breakneck speeds with no regard to the tempo or the subtleties of the music. However with dancers in the mix, there has to be restraint because tempos that are out of control are not conducive for allowing the dancers to execute their intricate moves. The conductor did a great job of watching the dancers and conveying the desired tempo to the musicians. Even with a small force of musicians, most probably because of size constraints in the orchestra pit, the music came across as majestic and skillfully executed. Prokofiev loves to write passages for various instruments that go to the extremes of their range. The musicians acquitted themselves quite well and the brass never sounded too forceful or obnoxious.

Once again a message for all Kansas Citian’s, please check out a symphony, opera, or ballet performance at the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City. Support these local artists and their gifts. There are some genuinely beautiful things going on and the arts so enrich one’s mind and soul. If you or someone you know may need counseling, please contact Lamar Hunt Jr. or see his website at http://lamarhuntjrcounseling.com/.