A trip to the ballet might seem like an activity best shared amongst mothers and daughters on a Saturday afternoon, but last Friday night, the City Ballet of Los Angeles brought the classic dance form to a crowd of hip young adults with their performance of Behind the Red Door at Cicada Restaurant.
Located at the bottom of the historic art deco Oviatt Building, Cicada Restaurant retains and recreates the glamor of the city's golden years. It's a posh establishment, certainly not the sort of place where you want to arrive in dinner shorts and flip-flops, and the younger crowd came dressed to impress, looking like a cross between silent film stars and club kids as they took in dinner and a performance.
Mixing ballet and cabaret, Behind the Red Door is in part a tribute to John Coltrane's landmark album Giant Steps. Most, though not all, of the music featured stems from these recordings with the Ralph Gibson Atman Ensemble playing live. Coltrane's work provides the backdrop for a story of a boy, a girl and a date that is as sweet as it is risque. CBLA's Sloan Robinson provides the narration, appearing as a cabaret singer complete with a hearty French accent. Set against the chandelier lighting and art deco-meets-modern interior of the venue, Behind the Red Door straddled vintage and contemporary entertainment. Though watching a ballet as you eat can seem a little odd at first, especially when you see waiters scurrying between tables as the lead couple engages in a pas de deux, it's an interesting and elegant experience.
This was the second of CBLA's three performances at Cicada Restaurant. Their final engagement is October 16.