Mile High Ballet


Looking like they were the lead part in a ballet the pair stepped up the aisle of the Boeing 767 that was winging it's way to Hong Kong. Straight legged and in perfect time they strode down the gangway with elegance and grace, lifting their legs high and keeping their toes pointed outward.  Linking their arms behind each others backs they delicately touched each others hands.

On reaching the curtain demarcating business class from us peasants he turned to face his audience while she remained facing the bulkhead. I swear I saw the hint of a bow as he began to go through a performance of English policeman impressions. Hands clasped behind his back he raised himself on his toes. He stayed there for a second, executing a series of minute bouncing movements on the balls of his feet before lowering himself slowly and spreading his knees as he moved to a squat. Reaching the squat triggered the reverse process and he again rose with poise back to the balls of his feet.

 She was dressed in a black three quarter length frock covered in red roses. She was going through ballet warm up routines. Each position carefully practiced and executed with grace and poise.

 Starting with the first position her feet were together, in line, heel to heel, one foot pointing left and the other right. Moving her arms forward they were curved and apart as though cuddling a large object.

 She was going through the whole ballet routine with her feet until she reached the fifth position. She was concluding her routine in the fifth position by putting her feet together, the front foot pointing to the bulk head and the back foot pointing forward  up the aisle, both feet were fully overlapping and at the same time she was raising one arm overhead and the other was held curved in front.

 Ah, it was poetry, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mr. Plod, a ballet written and performed by two self proclaimed artistes from urban Sydney. I was watching in utter fascination, the book that had held my interest for the past two hours was now old hat. This entertainment was fresh and new and different.

 Their performance was together but apart, at times the pair was in perfect synchronization and at other times they were performing separately but distinctly in the same rhythm. I would liken it to a jazz band where each artist would have the opportunity to improvise to show off their own unique skill and when they had finished that improvisation the group would all get back together for the chorus.

 On returning to the part that was the chorus of their act our performers looked like they were in some sort of ballet of the skies choreographed by QANTAS to entertain us travelers.

 On either side of the act were couples with young children. To the right was an English couple with a particularly screamingly spoilt brat sort of child. To the left was a Chinese couple with a very well attended and extremely polite young child.    Both couples were constantly attending their offspring. They were like mother hens rushing about their chicks in busy but joyous parental activities.

 I was watching the ballet duo in dumb struck amazement; they now appeared as if they were a part of the fabric of the life on board the aircraft. I realized that the two sets of parents had now adjusted their tempo to be that of the dancers.

 The female half of the duo was now getting into full swing; she did a pirouette and ended it facing the rear of the aircraft, looking towards her now growing band of fans. Her finishing movement was done in a flourish and she was coming to an unsteady rest as she lowered herself from her toes to her feet. At the same time the curtain between the upper and lower classes of the aircraft pushed open immediately behind her. The rear end of a flight attendant connected with the rear end of our principal ballerina just at that point when she was at her least balanced. She faltered on her feet and fell forward, only preventing herself from falling spread-eagled on the floor by catching the back of the seat in front of me.

 The drinks trolley was on its way around, and without missing a beat the leading lady had recovered herself from the less than graceful end of her twirl and was neatly stepping aside to let the trolley by. Her partner had not acknowledged the falter and was himself moving aside to give the cabin staff room to perform their duties. The stewarding staff did not acknowledge the existence of the performers and quietly maneuvered their charge past them as they moved to the back of the plane.

 I would have laughed aloud but I thought I'd better not, it didn't seem fair and yet it was side splitting in its humour. I looked either side of me, hoping that others were enjoying the scene in as much mirth as me, To my amazement the opposite was true and it appeared that people were seriously studying them. I looked up at the TV to see if this was some sort of organized activity that I had somehow missed was going on, but it wasn't.

 The two dancers were still at it; they didn't seem to miss a beat and recovered from the incident with the drinks trolley. She had twirled back to face the dividing curtain and was bent forward with one leg directly below her bum and the other stretched out in front. She was reaching for her ankles and her backside was pushed back, he was following her lead. What a sight it was, delightful entertainment, there is nothing like a bit of live action.

 The passenger beside me wanted to go to the bathroom so I moved to the aisle to let her through. You can imagine my surprise when I stood up and looked around to see several porky looking gentlemen and over weight track-suited ladies up and down the gangway following the lead of the two artistes in the front. There was a mile high group hug going on. I felt awkward and very British all of a sudden.

 I sat back into my seat in wonder. I again looked at the television monitors to see if some sort of group activity had been planned. There was nothing, just as I was about to pick up the in-flight magazine to see if this was a live exercise program the scene changed. It was as if a sign was given, the dancing queen and her king turned and in complete accord returned directly to where they had come from.

 I was relieved now as I could be me again, however I couldn't help myself, I had to turn to see what had happened to them and to see what the rest of the exercising team on the plane was doing.

 The aisles were empty; everybody was fixing their gazes at the television. The two sets of parents in front were squatting attending to their children. The dancing duo had vanished; there was no sign of them.

 I pinched myself to ensure I wasn't dreaming and picked up my book and continued to read. Clearly I had misunderstood something?