Our friend Jo had 2 tickets to the Royal Ballet of Flanders, and we managed to score a third ticket and went with him last night to see Sleeping Beauty. Some of you may know that for more than a year I've been working on a book that uses the story of Sleeping Beauty as a springboard, so to be able to go to this particular ballet was really a joy (and totally tax-deductible!). I last saw it when Baryshnikov danced the prince, centuries ago, and this version held up beautifully.
We had fabulous seats in the fourth row -- well, Jo and I did; Phil was in the nosebleed section -- and the theater was recently restored to glory inside (forgive my crappy photo; no flash allowed). There was a slightly startling moment of silence that turned out not to memorialize a recent death but to acknowledge the departure of the director due to budget cuts (see last year's NYTimes article if interested, Royal Ballet Struggles).
The evil fairy Carabosse ruled the peformance. He was played by a cross-dressing male dancer who did astonishing things with huge lengths of black fabric that opened and closed scenes, entrapped characters, and functioned as wings, cloak, and disguise.
Afterward we went for drinks in the square near St. Bavo. It was a little mindblowing to walk up from the quiet, beautifully lighted center to the wilds of the university, where students spilled out of every bar and we had to dodge pools of vomit and piles of broken glass. They party HARD in Gent.