An interesting performance in the rose gardens
03.07.2013 - 03.07.2013
The self-guided architectural tour ended in the rose gardens. My sister and I noticed some activity by the fountains. Activity of the people in costume and other people setting up equipment kind. When we started watching, there was one woman in a white dress, two guys wearing tails, and one woman dressed in a button-down shirt and slacks. Later on, they were joined by another tennish people wearing the same kinds of costumes.
They appeared to be ballet dancers. Between their overall jumpy spinny movements, practically every girl wearing her hair in a bun (one of them was wearing it loose) and one person who was practicing raising her foot to be on or near her toes, I was fairly sure it was ballet.
They seemed to still be setting up, and we were hungry, so we went back to the hotel and dinner and Kinder Egg. And then my father and I went back to the rose gardens.
The performers and people setting up had gone, so we looked at the sunset over Bern (see aforementioned assessment of the city) and then watched a game. As best as we could tell, the rules were:
1. You have a court, made out of string. (I have no idea what the dimension sare, but it's two rectangles right next to each other.)
2. There are two teams
3. There are three kinds of sticks- small, medium, and large. There are 12 small sticks (six per team) 10 medium (5 per team) and 1 large stick (right in the middle.)
4. Each team sets up the medium sized sticks at the edge of the court.
5. On their turn, a team will throw the small sticks to try and knock down the medium stick. If they succeed, they then throw the medium sized sticks to where they land. They need to throw it into their opponents territory, and get two chances. If they foul both times, the stick goes back to the end line.
6. Teams trade turns.
7. When all the sticks are on one side, that team tries to hit the big stick over. If they succeed, the game ends.
(If these rules sound familiar and you know the name, please comment. I'm curious now.)
The people had just finished one game and were starting another when I glanced over and noticed a lot of people in costume. The ballerinas were back. So we went over to watch them as they had a rehearsal.
Because it was a ballet with white and black and a fountain, I was prepared to guess that it was Swan Lake and leave it at that.
Around the time I heard singing in English “I ain't got time for you baby” I realized that made no sense whatsoever.'
The ballet began with eight people lying in a pile. One of the women raised her head early, looked around, then set it down again. Then, when it was actually time to begin, they all got up and started dancing. Half of them were in white, half of them were in black. A bit later, they froze.
Behind them, the , three people moved from the sides to a platform in the center. They were completely covered and encased in tubular things. They started dancing and shrugged the tubular things off, then continued dancing and dropped their hoods. There was one woman with her hair down and a really long dress. Next to her were two women in shorter dresses and hair in buns. They danced. Then they froze.
In the front, the eight figures resumed their dancing. And then every figure in white froze, and the figures in black started dancing around them. And then the figures in black took off the white clothing from the others, hence making them black. All except for one woman, who got to remain white. Then they all unfroze, the woman in white ran offstage, and the others are started dancing around.
The woman in the long dress and her two companions danced for a bit. Then a woman in a black dress who had tried and failed to make the woman in white black had an extended dance with a man dressed in a fancy white shirt (including one of the moves I'd seen them practicing earlier, where he leans forward, she rolls onto his back and lifts up one of her legs, then they both straightened up again) and everyone who had been originally dressed in black except for the woman in the dress and the dance turned white.
And then the woman in the long dress came offstage and stood right next to where I was watching (leaving a long trail of water behind her.) She started talking with a guy who had been on the phone earlier. A bit later, her companions joined her, and she got one of them to help her loosen the straps of her dress, so that when she returned to the water, she could shed the dress in one dramatic motion and reveal the swimsuit underneath. (I missed whatever the main action on the stage was at this point, because I was watching the woman, her companions and the guy. I couldn't eavesdrop very well, because I'm pretty sure they were speaking German.)
Once she entered the water again, her only job seemed to be guiding the woman in white (who had rejoined the stage) as she walked along the backs of everyone else. Then she and the guy in the fancy white shirt danced around the fountain for a while, then she met the woman in black, and there was a lot of dancing (but no dance equivalent of a catfight like I was expecting.) At some point I noticed that everyone who was wearing white had black underneath that- for instance, the woman in white had a black strap showing, most of the other women had a black skirt under the white skirt, and guys in white shorts had black shorts underneath. And if white and black were metaphorical good and evil, does that mean that at the end of the ballet, evil would triumph?
No. At the end of the ballet, no more layers of clothing would come out and they would all end in a pile the way they began. And there would be applause, tentative at first, perhaps because the audience had the same reaction as me and wondered “is that really it?” But when the performers got up and lined up on a platform bridge and bowed, it was very clear that yes, that was it.
I'd tried to understand it. I really had. But I find it kind of difficult to understand anything that doesn't have verbal explanations. Interpreting dance isn't a strong point of mine, and the American pop music didn't help things. I left having no idea what I'd seen, except that it wasn't Swan Lake.
So the next day, I was really confused when I saw a poster advertising Swanlake with the subtitle “Tanszernerung im Berner Rosengarten.” (Dance staging in Bern Rose Gardens) The dates on the poster were July 3-13. We'd seen the rehearsal on July 2. And when I walked through the rose gardens after diner on July 3, I saw benches set up near the fountain and the same people dressed in costumes I'd watched yesterday.
So all I'm left with is that I have no idea what I saw.