How I went to Angolan ballet

19/11/2021

Hooray for culture One fine day my phone rang and I received an invitation from my friend Dana for an Angolan ballet. In fact, at the time of my euphoric agreement, I had no idea that the word balé meant ballet. I enthusiastically told my husband that we had a program the next evening and finally, after four years of living in Angola, we would go to a cultural event together. The bale was organized by the Portuguese embassy in their cultural hall in central Luanda. Music dancing and singing With glowing eyes and a smile from ear to ear, I showed my husband the invitations Dana had sent me in the email. There was an eye-catching photograph of an African dancer with a traditionally painted face that made me feel like I would see beautiful traditional dances. Full of rhythmic music, colors and the joy that traditional African music has. I was looking forward to seeing painted dancers dressed in traditional palm or banana leaf skirts, hearing their beautiful songs and observing their flexible and supple bodies. Ballet as a bonus "Ballet?" my husband reacted incomprehensibly and a little annoyed, adding "I had no idea you like ballet?" Well, I couldn't admit that I probably didn't understand that it was ballet. I've never been to a ballet show when I miss a few short excerpts from our master Harapes that I've seen on television. But I wanted so much to have a cultural experience that I didn't even despise ballet, I tried to lure my husband a little and not let myself be poisoned. "Ana Clara Guerra?" I hear after a while studying the invitation. He started telling me what kind of woman she was, saying that she would probably be a force. At that moment, I could not imagine how much power it would be. Experience or madness? Ana Clara Guerra is an Angolan dancer, choreographer and pioneer of contemporary African dance. He grew up in an artistic and intellectual environment in Luanda and began ballet at the Dance Academy in Luanda at the age of eight. In 1987, she went to study dance and pedagogy in Portugal at the Escola Superior de Dança de Lisboa. In 1991, he returned to the country, and opened the first Contemporary Dance School of Angola. Her work includes dance, including researching and publishing new interpretations of traditional and popular dances in Angola. In particular, he studies the use of masks in the ritual dances of the Chokwesi people, who mostly inhabit northeast Angola. From sweatpants to evening gowns I was impatient and prepared all day. I spent an unusually long time on my hair and makeup, tried on several combinations of clothes before I was satisfied and chose what I felt beautiful. While my husband lay in the living room, somewhat annoyed, he nodded appreciatively, every time I arrived in front of him in a model, but secretly hoped something would happen and he would be spared this cultural experience. To this day, I have no idea if he was terrified of ballet or the company of five women. Madam on heels It's early evening and I'm beautifully dressed, with combed hair, perfect make-up and attention in high-heeled shoes, I get in the car with my husband, who is wearing a suit and polished shoes, and we set out on a journey for culture. Although my shoes pushed me everywhere I could, I sprained my ankle several times on the way to the car, so my husband had to support me to come at all, with the words "Is it worth it?" But I am determined to be madam today. Dana, who lives in the center of Luanda, is already waiting for us in front of her house, also beautifully dressed and painted, and the rest of the way to ballet we are going together. We are both obviously looking forward and full of expectations, but neither of us knows what we will see. Women's clan It takes us a while to orient ourselves in the center and find a suitable place to park, but after fifteen minutes we will be able to do it with the help of one of the security guards of the cultural center. Before the main entrance, Alena is also waiting with her daughter and Dana's friend, who is an employee of the Portuguese embassy. It also leads us to the lobby and gives an explanation of the exhibited paintings, which are all around. It is a sales exhibition of an Angolan artist. We walk together and admire some really particularly successful works, when we are disturbed by the sound of the bell, which tells us to move to the hall where my first ballet in life will take place and also the first cultural event in Angola. A social event The hall is fully filled, all the people are very beautifully dressed and, like me, they are very excited to start. It is evident that this ballet is considered a social event. I smile happily at my husband and whisper to him how happy I am that we went and how unspeakably I look forward to. Of course he smiles too, but today I know that he didn't laugh at the blissful feeling from the upcoming show, but at how I would react after it was over. Glory to Swan Lake It's here, the lights in the hall went out, the spotlights on the stage came on, and the music began to play. Well, music ... rather, sounds began to be heard that it was not possible to identify what they came from, and according to them, I knew it would be a drama. The music made me lose h and it was clear to me that I would not hear the cheerful African rhythms. The first African ballet dancers appeared on stage to great applause. One of them was legless and moved in a wheelchair until his dance colleague took him in his arms and put him on the ground. He sat on the ground, spinning on his ass and waving a huge satin sheet around him, which he hid under at times, sometimes wrapped around it or threw it into the air and let it fly gracefully onto the stage. I understand the expression crazy The whole performance was accompanied by very dramatic music, which amplified what was happening on stage. I looked at my friends a little upset and frightened to make sure I didn't have the conflicting feelings I felt. They all had petrified faces, and at one point we met with a frightened look. The husband, who noticed my embarrassed peeking at the others around him, was already holding me by the shoulders and whispering softly in my ear, "So, do you understand what we were talking about?" I understood it very quickly. At the same time, I understood his annoyed expression the moment we showed him the invitation and he found out who the choreographer of the performance was. The scene where one of the dancers grabs his colleague without legs and starts waving with him around his axis scared me so much that I wanted to run away. I was afraid that the pants he had fastened with a belt at his waist would not last at such a pace and his prostheses would land on our lap. I was so sorry for him. Survive to the end However, I must not forget the quality of ballet dancers' performances. When I get rid of the really somewhat crazy theme that the choreographer chose and the even more insane choreography that was amplified by the depressing music, the dancers' performances themselves were fantastic. I admired their flexibility, developed muscles and grace. The entire three-hour ballet performance was to show how people treat people with disabilities. How difficult these people are and how we should help them. The topic is certainly interesting and important, but I'm not sure if it's suitable for ballet. Or maybe it is, but probably in a slightly different choreography. "Well, nothing," I have to survive to the end, I repeated for the rest of the show. Leaving would be very inappropriate and I did not want to draw attention to myself. I held my husband's hand and sometimes we exchanged an understanding smile. And I had a scenario of our journey home with my husband's reproachful monologue, which probably awaits me. One long silence It's over, we're all standing in front of the building and I'm lighting a cigarette with a shaking hand. None of us can say anything. Dana decides in silence and asks out loud how we liked it. We all just nod silently, like yes, it was nice. Neither of us wants to comment on this anymore. My husband and I are silent all the way back, it was the quietest ride of our lives. I didn't want to open this topic to avoid the possible "See, I told you so." But right in front of our house, I can't stand it and admit to my husband that it was crazy and that I'm depressed from the show. He admits that he doesn't feel good about it either and develops a debate about the whole show, but he doesn't say in a word that he knew it or that he told me. Our conversation is interrupted by Dana, who calls me to make sure we get home safely. And again he asks me how I feel about the show. This time I answer her truthfully and communicate my feelings of distress and disappointment. She also admits that she is dismayed by this performance and wants to cry for her. But the three of us are already laughing.

Balet není zkrátka pro mě, já potřebuji pohodu, klid, úsměv, rytmus a život. Takže příště jedině na nějaké tradiční africké tance a hudbu.