The Sun
Published: 19 Oct 2010

“I thought ballet was mincing on stage but I was wrong. The blokes are built like soldiers and are amazing athletes”

SO you don’t know your splits from your Nutcrackers and think ballet is only for toffs – think again.

After twice having filled London’s Royal Opera House with Sun readers for exclusive opera performances of Don Giovanni and Carmen, this year we’re having a bash at ballet.

Below tough guy Andy McNab tells why he is a ballet fan and Louie Spence demonstrates a few moves to watch out for at a Cinderella show…

“Before I experienced ballet for the first time I had the same negative attitude as many people.

Why would I want to spend an evening watching theatre folk mincing around the stage when I had no idea what was going on? I thought those who enjoy it must be a bit wet or something.

Two years ago my wife convinced me to join her at a kids’ ballet called Angelina’s Star Performance with my niece and nephew. It was based on the popular children’s character Angelina Ballerina – and I was won over from the moment the curtain went up.

The staging, performances and music took me completely by surprise and I went from being a cynic to a convert. When my wife asked me to go to Swan Lake a few weeks later I was keen to see what such a legendary ballet would be like. I wasn’t disappointed.

If the first experience was impressive, the second blew me away. The blokes are built like soldiers, with legs thick as tree trunks. They throw the ballerinas around as if they are light as feathers.

Meanwhile, the girls pull all sorts of amazing shapes and aren’t bad to look at either. Watching someone standing on tiptoe with the other leg straight up in the air is pretty eye-popping.

Some of the audience were moved to tears, although I wasn’t quite in that category.

I’ve heard being a ballet dancer is the second most physically demanding profession after being a biathlete. I’m not surprised, because I’ve toured the gym where they train. I wouldn’t fancy bench-pressing what those lads lift on a daily basis.

If anyone claims it’s for wimps, ask if they’ve ever tried it. Without a doubt they won’t have.

Seeing a ballet also makes for a really good night out. Before Swan Lake I went online to learn the story. It is usually summarised in the programme too, so you don’t have to sit there like an idiot with no idea about what is happening.

A show like Cinderella is an ideal afternoon for families too. The difference between watching ballet on television and seeing it in real life is amazing. Kids will love the spectacle of the stage and the skill of the dancers.

It’s important to expose youngsters to a bit of culture because they need to be able to make up their own minds about whether they like it or not. The same goes for adults, of course.

Some people might also think twice about turning up at the Royal Opera House. But don’t forget, our taxes paid for its refurbishment and keep it running. The place belongs to regular, hard-working Brits. It’s a posh, spectacular building, so get in there and have your money’s worth.

My wife and I go to the ballet regularly now and I’m signed up to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s scheme providing cheap tickets to everyday folk.

Now we’re looking forward to Cinderella in December and I’m delighted a few thousand Sun readers will have the opportunity to enjoy it too.”

Go here to read the full article in The Sun

Well, I know at least one fan will jump at this one…. But I’ll end with a quote from Crisis Four..

The dog was feeling really confident now; he knew he’d got me. I bent
down and, with my right hand, grabbed hold of his left rear leg. The limb
twitched as if he were doing an Irish jig as he tried to kick away.
I started to pull the back leg up toward me. The dog was confused and
pissed off, biting more and moving his head from left to right. I was
grappling to keep hold of his leg. It was dancing away like Michael Flatley
on speed.