How to see a Ballet ft. the Royal Swedish Opera, Stockholm
I would like to begin with a thankful note to Maja, Leo, Benjamin, and Thomas. All who work at the Opera as staff and who made me feel literally like a royal!
Performances like an Opera show or ballet show are meant to lure you into a world of stories, characters, eras, and regions. If it’s not an out-of-body experience, then I don’t know what it is. To see, believe, and feel a ballet, one must start preparing a week in advance. It all starts with the ticket and a little coordination back and forth in my case. Because as a wheelchair user, you want accessible seats but you also want good seats. So begins a few phone calls and emails and you get your ticket in advance. Then comes the wardrobe. In cases like mine you not just pick your outfit but also a character of your own. Because why shall we only see a story when we can be a part of it?
To create formal wear and pick inspiration from the night, I chose to wear my black skirt from Rung Ja and matched it with a plain black top and a brown jacket. I also put a gold band on my head as I decided on my character. I am going to be the mysterious girl in the wheelchair. I was joined by my Plus one and my forever companion, Aloha Salad. And then we headed to see Don Quixote, a classical ballet performance. But a title I still can’t pronounce. It was a performance about Don as the main character and his dream of living like a knight. He journeys to fulfill his dream and fight evil and eventually ends up helping two lovers who needed some help to be united.
Before you enter the beautiful hall, you must finish your salad and then head to hand over your jacket to the guy who will also take SEK 30 and promise to guard your jacket with his life. Now it’s time to head to the foyer and grab a glass of nonalcoholic champagne while you can listen to the briefing and stand among some aristocrats.
Then the curtain is lifted and live music diffused through the air while you see performers do what they do best. But to see a ballet, you can’t just watch. You have to feel. Feel every dancer´s gesture, movement, soft landing, and then rising. You need to feel your knees and feet up in the air with them. Every movement has a message and meaning and it’s your duty to catch it before the critics. You have to be transported into their world but before we could cross the bridge, the performance was cut short due to a foot injury of the performer who played Kitri.
But a canceled event should never discourage you one bit. Just head to the box office and request the next day´s tickets and reimbursement for that day before heading to hit the streets of Stockholm while staying in your character. I also sneaked in a request of getting compensation for that day to which Maja said that she will do what she can. If you can, you must meet cast members or the director. I got a chance to speak with Kentaro Mitsumori who was playing Basilio for the day. I just had to stop and tell him about his amazing performance and chemistry with Kitri.
The next day was even more eventful. We missed the first part of the show. But to my delight, Maja had arranged a refreshment table for me and my plus one. We were escorted to our seats where we continued to see the remaining show. On each day all staff members paid special attention to my needs as a person with a disability.
The most important part is the entry and exit from a ballet. But this applies to you too. With every curtain lift, you make a pact to let the stage take control of you, and with the curtain call, you promise to let it all sink deeper into your mind and awaken your own stories that you must tell. Because somewhere a stage similar to the one you will see awaits your story to be told. Even though the world of theatre, Opera, and the stage, in general, is a world of illusion. But one can let go for three hours to fully immerse in a story. You must almost feel as if you belong to this world. The stage must pull you as it pulled me. You must never walk out of ballet the same as you walked in.
LinkedIn: Tanzila Khan