Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grande Finale!

One week ago I was quite excited, to say the least. Only 2 days and there would be something amazing to see! Of Course I'm talking about the farewell performance of Minna Tervamäki, the retiring étoile of our National Ballet. On Saturday I had a full day of Suzuki teacher training before running to the hotel and changing and... Well. Let me tell you about it.


I took the 7.45 am buss to Helsinki, after only 3-4 hours of sleep. Good day ahead! Made it on time to the music school of Käpylä. Met some lovely colleagues and taught one student, listened to others teaching, followed some lecturing. Made lots of notes. Took a buss to the center. Bought one pair of pantyhose -> NEVER buy only one pair if you have a Thing to go to. Always ALWAYS at least 2 pairs. Okay, so, got some (real) champagne for Sunday (to give my friend), some snacks for the evening (to eat after the show). 

Back to hotel. Try Not to sleep. Take a shower. Change clothes. Notice one crucial hair product missing. Put on those pantyhose. Hear a "snap"... Oh. There's a BIG hole in them, on my right thigh. Find nail polish. Fix the hole. *Deep sigh.* Remember to remove the old (very colorful) polish from finger nails. Put on some make-up. Sip some bubbly (not the champagne, but some cheaper stuff, just a piccolo bottle). Eat some chocolate. Put on the jacket, shoes. Other shoes in a bag, remember to take the purse! Leave for the tram. As the tram starts to move, notice that YOU STUPID IDIOT FORGOT THE BALLET TICKET in the hotel room!!!!!

Get off the tram on the first stop - run for your life - get the ticket and try to breath at least a little - ask the reception girl to call a cab. While sitting in the car, think about the 2-day-all-round-ticket you bought for 10 euros, for all the buses & trams & metros. Then pay 15 euros for the cab... :D And make it on time for the show. Yay!!!

Then about the actual performance...

Michal Krčmář and Minna Tervamäki. Photo by Sakari Viika.

I've never been to a farewell show before. Only seen bits and pieces online (of Darcey Bussell). This already made the atmosphere special. Had a teeny-tiny doubt about the night's casting - Tervamäki at her 40s and Krcmar in his early 20s. But I sure got proved "wrong" about it, Mr. Solor was a-ma-zinggggg... Just. Wow. (You'll find his webpage here, go!)

I actually didn't have time to watch the whole work through beforehand as I planned, there were some sad news of a friend. But - the plot was familiar (and I bought the programme leaflet), so I knew what was to happen. I think everyone was as eager as me, just waiting for Étoile herself to appear on stage. And as she did - such spontaneous applause! Some friends said they had tears in their eyes at that moment - and so did I. In my opinion Tervamäki was and is at her best in these very dramatic roles, her style is charismatic, she's elegant and strong. She was very good in the lovers' scenes, but can't help thinking that the suffering parts of the role were more of her kind. For example, the dance of Nikiya at the engagement scene, before getting the flowers and the snake etc. The music was oh-so-sad, my hands got sweaty, eyes teared again. I've seen maybe some deeper bendings of the back, but Tervamäki - she gave out her everything. And soon she died... Talk about drama, I say.

Minna Tervamäki and Michal Krčmář. Photo by Sakari Viika.
The Kingdom of Shades. In my opinion our corps de ballet did a splendid job. As I followed the first shade's process from the first arabesque to the last, my legs got exhausted! That part of the second act is long, lot of balancing (arabesque, developpe a la seconde - argh....) and moves that have to be unisono (borrowing an Italian word here, in one voice). Some of the main couple's dancing went without me paying attention, as I was waiting so much for the Variations. And my former dance class friend (from childhood) was one of them! It turned out that she got to do my favorite, the First One. There was applause during the one-foot releves in the end and she sure did deserve them. Biiiiig applause in the end, too. The second and third Shades were very nicely on the spot also, such a pleasure to watch.

Barbora Kohoutková, Michal Krčmář and Minna Tervamäki. Photo by Sakari Viika.
The final act. Lot of bling, lovely costumes. Even more drama. In the photo above is also Barbora Kohoutková, whom I've wanted to see on stage for years. She was the winner of Juniors in Helsinki International Ballet Competition in 1995, also got the Grand Prix price. And I remember it so well... :) This evening she was glamorous, yet a bit scary, in her role as Gamzatti. Skillful to the last extension of toes, also elegant. Just look at those hands in the photo.

The last act was over so soon. Nikiya and Solor got each other, of course, but I felt empty somehow. It's that feeling always after a Good performance. Whether you're part of it or just a spectator. We stood there, giving our thanks to the Star of the evening, and stood for a While, might I add. Opera full of people clapping their hands together. The only thing I wondered was Why she didn't get flowers sooner. I would have given them almost instantly. And more than the one bouquet of roses she got near the end of the standing ovation. (The roses were plenty and they were Lovely, don't get me wrong here. But still.)

As we walked from the first balcony (I sat right in the middle of it, in 1st row) and the curtain had closed for good, we could hear applause, laughing, happy noises behind it. How great it would have been to be there! Luckily it wasn't over for us, not yet. Many of us went to the main foyer, to wait for the interview of Miss Tervamäki. There was a man telling some stuff about Minttu (as many people call her), and the audience got to tell their memories of her. Soon enough She emerged and sat down, still wearing the last outfit. With some warmies over it! :) That man interviewed her a bit, then we got to ask her questions. Aaaaaand finally she gave autographs. I'm not usually the one who goes after them, but this was something I wanted. Have to take a photo of it to show you.


Sooooorryyyyy for this overlong post! Just couldn't put it in fewer words. And this wasn't even all I thought about it. Have to continue later, maybe. But to really sum it all up - probably the best I've seen this season. It's still running till the end of April, go and see. Salla and Jaakko Eerola, Maria Baranova and Michal Krčmář, Eun-Ji Ha and Nicholas Ziegler (I'd have loved to see him, but had to make a choice, bohoo....).


  1. Sounds like an absolutely amazing performance and you were so lucky to be there, it must have been fantastic, so jealous of you :-)
    Thank you very much for giving us a little bit of insight into the performance, loved it :-)
    I wish the Finnish National Ballet would release some DVDs I know I would certainly purchase them along with thousands of other ballet lovers.
    Anyway thank you so much for taking the time to let us know about the wonderful performance :-)

    1. Thanks! :) It was fabulous to be part of it (I've never clapped my hands that long). And though we're kind of losing one dancer, it was such a pleasant surprise how brilliant our new male soloist is! :)

      About the dvds, I share your thoughts. I'm guessing it's a question of financing mainly... But they have been a bit more active this year in social media, so it's a step to the right direction. And there is an opera dvd, so they just might do a ballet one some day :D