My First Time… At the Ballet

I am not a regular attendee of ballets. It’s not really my scene- you are far more likely to find me jumping around a sweaty gig in King Tuts or cosied up in the back of the Grosvenor cinema watching the latest movie blockbuster. But the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival gave me the chance this October to witness Barrowland Ballet’s Tiger; a breathtaking and raw emotional rollercoaster of a performance.

As I entered the Tramway theatre, with its dark, cool interior, and saw the wire cage in the centre of the room, I knew this would not be your typical ballet with tutus and leotards galore. A twist on the famous tale The Tiger Who Came to Tea, it focuses on an orderly family stuck in routine and, as a result, each member feeling isolated and alone. The mother, father and daughter dance the same routine inside their cage illustrating their entrapment in their unhappy lives. With few words spoken throughout the performance, it is through the dancing that the story is told with the help of the live music played throughout. The issue of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is dealt with expertly in the tale, with it being evident that the mother suffers from it, dragging the family ever further into the depths of routine, unhappiness and loneliness.

When the unhappiness becomes so great that the father leaves, it is only the beginning of the story. The actor returns in the form of a tiger breaking into the lives of the mother and daughter and causing havoc. At first this upsets the mother greatly whilst entertaining the daughter, but soon the fun and unpredictable tiger brings happiness to them both making it clear to the audience that sometimes all life needs is an addition of colour.

This story is heart-breaking, enlightening and incredibly happy all at the same time. The performers unleash their emotions with their dancing, drawing in the audience for the full performance. Unusual and rather experimental, Tiger is a fantastic show and I would certainly recommend it.

So have I been transformed into a ballet lover yet? I’m not entirely sure but I can say that I will definitely keep an eye out for future Barrowland Ballet performances.

-Claire Flynn

-Image courtesy of Secretaría de Cultura Ciudad de México (