Monday, November 19, 2012
BEFORE YOU GO ON A WILD GOOSE CHASE, TAKE A GANDER AT THIS!
Disappointments are part of life. Each one of us has high expectations of many things. I know I have; and, to be honest, it’s not my only failing. At times, my high expectations can be my downfall. I expect a lot of others; but, in reality, no more than I ask of and expect from me. There are times I disappoint myself; and there are as many times, if not more, that the behaviour of others disappoints me.
Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised when the end results meet or, on occasions, go beyond our expectations. Alternatively, we can be bitterly (or mildly, too) disappointed when something or someone doesn’t “measure up”. It happens - that's all part of the rich tapestry of Life! Venturing further, I dare say that experiencing disappointments makes one appreciate the reverse situation even more.
In the early Eighties, brimming with excitement and anticipation, my then mother-in-law and I drove to Brisbane from the coast we lived at the time to see the visiting Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of “Swan Lake”.
A few months earlier we’d attended a matinée concert in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast where we watched, in awe, the Queensland Youth Ballet perform “Alice in Wonderland”. Brilliantly executed by a troupe of exuberant, talented young dancers, it was a colourful, entertaining and memorable event.
So it was with high expectations, off to the Bolshoi’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s beautiful ballet we drove. Who knew if we’d ever again get a chance to see the world-acclaimed, much-loved ballet that premièred at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in 1877.
“Swan Lake” is synonymous with the Bolshoi Ballet; to my way of thinking (and I’m not alone in these thoughts, I imagine) it walks (or dances) arm in arm with the name “Bolshoi”.
However, to our surprise and great disappointment the performance we watched that particular Saturday evening in Brisbane was absolutely abysmal! Like a mob of amateurs, the dancers stumbled about the stage, desperately devoid of grace. The company of dancers received lack-lustre applause with no standing ovations. Obviously my companion and I weren’t alone in our judgments!
I spent half the evening watching the members of the orchestra in the pit; the lady harpist, in particular. She was far more entertaining and talented than those purporting to cavort across the stage! They weren’t a sight for sore eyes...they caused sore eyes!
No wonder Nureyev chose the Kirov over the Bolshoi; and no wonder he chose to defect!
The Bolshoi dancers waddled about the stage like an inebriated, bedraggled gaggle of geese!
The “Danse des Petits Cygnes” (Dance of the Little Swans) was more like the “Dance of the Headless Chickens”! The cygnets didn’t know how to degagé their derrière.
Not only were Odette’s feathers ruffled at the pas de deux between Odile and Prince Siegfried (he should’ve been fried), ours were, too.
The local wood ducks up here on the mountain that blissfully paddle on a nearby dam are more graceful!
My expectations of the Bolshoi Ballet were permanently shattered that Saturday evening.
However, Nureyev didn’t disappoint when I watched him dance in “Giselle” during his Brisbane visit in the mid-Seventies. Rudy mesmerized; his sensual, feline movements; his arrogance and strength were breathtaking! Nureyev certainly cut the mustard!
Unfortunately, at that time Brisbane didn’t have a suitable venue to host such a dancer of Nureyev’s quality. It was during the days of Brisbane's old Festival Hall and the only ballet that could be performed was “Giselle” because the stage wasn’t big enough for other ballets.
I convinced my ex-husband to go along with me to see Rudy. I said I was going whether he did or not, anyway. But he did accompany me, albeit a little unwillingly.
We had wonderful seats to the side of the hall with unhindered view of the stage; and our seats were quite near to the stage - looking down onto the dances.
The old Festival Hall was originally built as a boxing stadium back around 1910. Throughout the ensuing years it hosted not only boxing matches, but wrestling, as well as "roller derby". It also was the venue for many rock concerts. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Kinks, The Bee Gees to name but a few performed in the hall. I saw Paul McCartney and Wings there; Neil Diamond...even Benny Goodman...and so many more. Festival Hall really wasn't suitable for a ballet performance, particularly one with Rudolph Nureyev as its principal male dancer, but as I said back in the Seventies Brisbane had no other suitable venue.
So there were all the ladies of the city dressed up "to the nines" with their diamonds, pearls and faux furs in the dowdy, old hall.
When the ballet came to an end, and Nureyev came out to take his bows.
Spontaneously, I leapt up out of my seat and yelled out loudly: "Good on you, Rudy!"
Quite a number of the ladies in the front rows looked up at me in distaste. I'm sure I heard a few "Tsk! Tsks"! My ex made futile attempts of disowning me...but...Rudolph Nureyev turned to me; smiled and bowed! To me!
I hadn't intended calling out to him, but in my excitement of seeing the master dance...anything was possible! My adrenaline was flowing. I'm glad I did yell out to him...at least, I can truthfully say that Nureyev bowed and smiled at me; he acknowledged me excitement. It's a moment I will never forget; and one I will always cherish.
I would’ve watched Rudy dance “Gangnam Style” in a cow paddock – as long as I saw him dance live!
Garlic-Mustard Goose: Position oven rack in bottom third of oven; preheat oven 220C. Remove excess fat and skin from tail and neck cavities. Pierce goose with sharp fork, especially where fat is thickest on legs and lower breast; don’t pierce the flesh. Season cavities and skin; tie legs together to hold shape. Place goose, breast side down, on V-shaped rack set in roasting pan. Add enough water to pan to reach depth of 1/2 inch. Roast 40mins. Spoon off fat from surface of liquid in pan; reserve 1/4 cup fat. Reduce oven to 175C. Turn goose onto 1 side. Roast 30mins. Turn goose onto second side. Roast 30mins. Combine 3tbls Dijon mustard, 2tbls lemon juice, 2 crushed garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and 1/2tsp thyme or marjoram. Turn goose breast side up. Brush goose with mustard-garlic mixture. Roast until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork, about 50mins. Transfer goose to platter; tent loosely with foil to keep warm. Reserve pan juices. Spoon fat from top of juices in roasting pan; add 1/2c port; bring to boil on stove top until reduced to 1 cup. Whisk together 1/3rd cup plain flour and 1/4c reserved goose fat in saucepan over med-low heat until roux is light brown, about 5mins. Gradually which in port mixture and 2-1.2c quality stock; simmer until thickened; whisking constantly; stir in 2tbls port; season to taste. Don’t be a silly goose! Get goosed! Cook your goose! Let it be the feature of your Christmas table this year!