Monday, February 15, 2010

A Field Trip to the Ballet

Back in December, the Homestead school went on a field trip to see Ballet Arizona perform the second act of "The Nutcracker". It was such a treat that Mrs. D frequently found herself blinking back tears, thankful that the performance hall was dark. (Maybe she needs to get out more!) Yards of floating fabrics, graceful dancers, music by the Phoenix Symphony, all live on stage right in front of us! At the price of ballet tickets we would never have been able to indulge in this particular field trip had it not been for a special student matinee offered by Ballet Arizona specifically for schools (including homeschoolers) which allowed us to obtain tickets for $4 a seat. Students watched the dancers warm up and the crew set up the stage prior to the performance, with a wonderful commentary provided by Paris Wilcox, Education Coordinator.

Many students of the School of Ballet Arizona performed in the show, as well as in all the public performances. Another unique aspect of this performance was a question and answer session with the dancers afterwards. Several roaming microphones amplified questions from the audience which were answered by the dancers and Mr. Wilcox. Also, we were educated about the construction, use and care of pointe shoes, the special shoes ballerinas wear to dance on the tips of their toes.

We also downloaded a free study guide that assists in explaining the history of ballet and the origins of Ballet Arizona. It includes a synopsis of The Nutcracker and its composer, Tchaikovsky. Following that are tips for preparing students, watching the ballet, behavior during the show and discussion starters for afterwards. Even a glossary of ballet terms.

With the Homestead always on a tight budget, this offer was an incredible find. We were able to stay with friends overnight in Phoenix, which was a great help, not having to get up at 3a.m. to feed and make the 180 mile drive, hoping to arrive on time - yech! As it was, we arrived at Symphony Hall refreshed and ready to enjoy a wonderful bit of culture - The Ballet.