We like to take the girls to the ballet at least once a year, and today was The Grand Ballet Outing of 2012. There wasn’t a tutu in sight at the Hamburg Ballet’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the dresses were all flowing slips, but so much was going on on the stage that we were kept enthralled.

Even at their young ages, our girls have enjoyed a variety of ballet productions. They can watch Hans Christian Andersen and the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker again and again on their kipis, and have seen the Royal NZ Ballet, the Queensland Ballet and local end-of-year students showing us their finest moves.

Because it is such a special event for us, we’ve been counting down the days to the ballet. We got all dressed up for today’s outing to QPAC, and the anticipation was part of the fun.

Aisha, Delaney and Calista looking at South Bank, Brisbane, September 2012
While we wait for the doors to open, we enjoy the views of South Bank setting up for the Brisbane Festival. The girls spot a carousel (as well as the ferris wheel) and want to come back another time for these rides.

Calista sucking her thumb, September 2012
Calista rests for a while on the carpeted floor.

Lauren and Calista, September 2012
Cali is the only girl who agrees to have a photo taken with me today. I did have plans for a group shot of all five of us, but I'm happy to have this one!

We settled into our seats — squishing into three instead of the five allocated to us — and stopped fidgeting as soon as the music started. There’s something about the richness of the costumes and backdrop fabrics that create a magical atmosphere even before the dancers start moving.

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra performed at the same time as the dancers, and so superb were they — under the guidance of the Brisbane-born Hamburg Ballet’s Resident Conductor Simon Hewett — that their music was completely part of the organic mood wrapping around us. As we were drawn into the story, I had to remind myself that there were real people contributing to every sound I heard, for their contributions are as valuable as the principal dancers’.

After about forty minutes, Delaney started to get restless, and a gentle usher invited us to move to a private viewing room. The sound-proofed room gave us an opportunity to watch and enjoy the ballet while verbally analysing and speculating on the story and the dancers.

Watching the Hamburg Ballet perform A Midsummer Night's Dream, Brisbane, September 2012
Once we're in a sealed room, we're free to talk about the production and speculate on the stories and costumes.

The ballet production included many comical elements, and the audience burst into spontaneous laughter at certain points. I didn’t have a programme in front of me, so I couldn’t keep track of all the dancers, but we bought one after the show to pore in the next couple of days.

During the interval, we raced down to South Bank to find something to eat. Because were were in the private room, it didn’t matter that we were a little late in returning to our seats — although for Brioni this was almost devastating. The second act was much shorter than the first, and we were disappointed when the show ended.

Just like last year’s Royal NZ Ballet introduced us to the story of Pinocchio, today’s ballet has gotten us started on Shakespeare! We received the tickets to today’s production as a gift, and I was remiss in not introducing the girls to the story of the A Midsummer Night’s Dream beforehand. However, we’ll be reading and watching adaptations of Shakespeare’s play during the next couple of weeks until the girls understand what they saw.

Yes, ballet is great, and even more so when it’s part of a balanced diet of other artistic expressions. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to take the girls today and want to thank our anonymous benefactor for their generosity that made today possible!