40 years at the ballet

Performer

Everything is beautiful at the ballet. Ballerinas in velvet leotards and white tights are exquisite as they dive into their pirouettes and concentrate on their poise and precision.

Friday night marked the 40thanniversary of the Martine and Matt Mattox dance program and a showcase was held to commemorate the event at the Palais des Congres in Perpignan. From intricate poses to fluid movement and shapes, the dancers’ faces and lithe bodies beamed radiantly underneath the neon stage lights.

However, the show steered clear of a traditional ballet performance and exposed a dancing style that was more animistic than statuesque.

Although I am accustomed to seeing the traditional style performed, the showcase was visually refreshing because it was unique and innovative.

In one segment, the dancers’ costumes glowed in the dark.

The most moving segment of the show was Martine Mattox herself. With her face painted gold and outfit reminiscent of a Hindu god, she plunged into a flawless routine combining raw, jagged movements with traditional ballet technique. Originality poured out of her performance.

But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

Simultaneously, all the dancers gathered on stage. A projector screen rolled down. A picture slide show began. A monumental cake layered in pounds of white frosting and an assortment of candy apples was brought out. Audience members jumped up and down in anticipation.

It took four chefs and two stage managers to light the sparklers located randomly on the mountain cake. Atop the mountainous dessert, there were two significant numbers: 40.

Joyful and Triumphant

Although I’ve attended dance showcases in the past, I’ve never seen a celebration of this magnitude. After my dance and voice performances, I usually stuck around for maybe 10 minutes — because the show was over. On Friday I stayed behind to watch the celebration continue for at least 30 minutes. And even though I left, I don’t think the celebrating and socializing stopped.

It was obvious this dance school is a very close-knit community. In a cutthroat industry, I think the closeness of this dance school is a rarity and is something to be valued.