Colm O'Regan: It's never too late to start your love affair with ballet

Colm O'Regan: It's never too late to start your love affair with ballet

I don’t know how far away from it I was reared, but it was a few miles anyway, and a few decades away as well. The ballet, I mean.

There wasn’t any ballet in Dripsey that I’m aware of, unless there was an underground scene. But we’d have heard. Even with them quiet shoes tiptoeing around, there’d surely have been talk.

There was set dancing, which was an extension of national struggle as it dealt mainly with documenting — via 1-2-3 1-2-3 — some of the Jacobite sieges and bombardments around Limerick and Ennis.

There were bits of ballet on telly.

Murder She Wrote covered it in an episode called ‘Death Takes a Curtain Call’, but that focussed more on Jessica Fletcher playing to her strengths — Noticing The Important Thing We Didn’t Notice, like that the killer had to be eight foot tall and right-handed, but the suspect was four foot tall and had feet for hands.

But the main reason me and ballet didn’t get on was Festival. To understand my antipathy to Festival, you first need to understand the Sunday afternoon television landscape of a few decades ago.

There was nothing on. Even sport was minimal. Live GAA games didn’t really begin until the All-Ireland semi-final stage, when Micheal O’Sé would be commentating in a big

chocolatey Irish blas on rangy young lads in loose jerseys in the minors whose only weight training was dosing calves.

And into the great expanse of grey Sunday afternoons for two hours was either horse racing or a programme called Festival.

Festival was ballet or opera.

And I wasn’t interested in ballet, opera, horseracing, or any combination of the three. I liked soccer, Aussie Rules, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, the two weeks of telly promised in the RTÉ Guide at Christmas, and keeping my milk teeth in a jar after they fell out.

So I never really watched the ballet. I was just angry at what it wasn’t.

But things have changed. The Youngsters have found ballet. They caught it off Peppa or Dora or some other vector.

They watch videos on YouTube, and therefore we do too. You have to, because you turn your back on YouTube for a second and one minute it’s ballet the next minute it’s an AI-generated cartoon where Peppa is fighting a luminous orange dinosaur with a dentists’ drill.

The two-year-old, whether by misinterpretation or design, calls herself a Batterina. Which is the crossover we are all waiting for.

Are you tired of some of the toxic masculinity that surrounds combat sports, but at the same time you would prefer your ballet to have a bit more collisions? Surely the batterina is the athlete who can interpret the delicate power of Sleeping Beauty , but at the same time could deliver a roundhouse kick to the cheekbone of any prince taking his sweet time waking Her the eff up.

And last week, we WENT to the ballet. Call the Notions Police!

A man who once earned two pounds an hour scaring pigeons from six fields of broccoli has been to the ballet. And I was entranced.

It was captivating. For a while, anyway. The Youngsters were restless.

We had to leave The Nutcracker at half time. So I’ve no idea whether that Sugar Plum Fairy wan has a dance in her or not.

I might go back. On my own this time.

Maybe on a Sunday afternoon.

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