.by Anura Guruge
>> ‘Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’ … — July 1, 2013.
Seeing that amazing performance on Sunday night by ‘The Trocks‘ at the ‘Hop’ in Dartmouth brought to mind my very first exposure to ballet and how it changed my life.
I saw my first ballet, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, in Colombo, Ceylon, c. 1961 – 1962. I know it was a Russian ballet company. Can’t remember how famous it was (e.g., Moscow ballet), but it was definitely meant to be a good one.
I had front row seats, more or less right in the middle. I wasn’t sure what to expect or whether I was even going to like it. But, we didn’t have TV in Ceylon in those days. So going to ‘the films’ and live entertainment such as this was a big deal. If I stayed at home, other than the radio (which I didn’t listen to that much), I would have no choice but to read or draw.
The lights went down. I settled back in my chair and waited. They came on stage, in all glittery white and started doing their thing. The lead ballerina twirled, stretched and whatever and then jumped. When she landed she experienced a bona fide wardrobe malfunction. A costume, at the top had slipped and her right boob, was exposed in all its glory! And she was right in front of me.
Now I am sure I had seen a few brown boobs by then, but this was then a very modest and prudish society. This was my first exposure to a white boob. I was transfixed. I was mesmerized. I obviously liked what I saw. From what I recall it was compact and perky. My immediate reaction was ‘if this is ballet, I sure like it‘. To be honest, I have yet to change my mind, 50(+) years later though I have, alas, never seen another wardrobe malfunction since.
I also kind of felt sorry for the ballerina. No, I can’t tell you whether she blushed or not. I was not looking at her face. She was a trooper. She did not stop and run off the stage. She continued to perform while discreetly trying to tuck things in and pull up her costume. During the first act, during which she never left the stage, this happened at least 4 times! Wow. When she was back for Act II they had, alas, fixed the problem, for good.
[Now in my old age I could be, as I am wont to be, cynical and question whether this was all part of a dastardly Soviet scheme to corrupt innocent, young brown boys forever. About 10 years later, as a student at Mill Hill (London), I went on a school trip to Russia. I remember that the Russian girls were sure persuasive.]
Soon after, no doubt influenced by this exposure to a white boob, I started telling my friends at school that when I grow up I was going to marry a white woman. They would laugh, hilariously. Brown folks in Ceylon at that time did not often marry outside their caste, let alone their race. One of them, now a preeminent architect in Ceylon, would tell me that I would have to start painting a certain part of my anatomy white since no white woman would let me anywhere near her if I was brown all over. How wrong he was!
Well the rest really is history — and the fact that I left Ceylon a week before my 14th birthday might have had something to do with it.
I have only been married to white women. A few years ago, because somebody asked me, I also realized, with wry amusement or otherwise, that I have only, ever, associated with white women.
So … that first ballet.
The funny thing, and again a few might raise their eyebrows, I am not particularly a boobs man. Lets face it, ballerinas, due to the basic laws of physics, don’t usually tend to be big up there.