People often ask me why I tweet. What’s the value, they ask, of broadcasting one’s thoughts and whereabouts in a public forum, for total strangers to read? That’s precisely why I do love Twitter: It connects users with similar interests who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to meet. Often, for a balletomane like me, that can mean not feeling so alone at the theater; I can do a quick search on Twitter for “New York City Ballet” and converse with others in the audience without leaving my seat. And sometimes incredible things can happen. Without Twitter, for instance, Benjamin Millepied – the choreographer, dancer, and fiancé of Natalie Portman – would never have offered me four house seats to the premiere of his ballet Why am I not where you are.
It’s not uncommon for me to go to the ballet alone, and Saturday, May 22, 2010, was one such day. I’d purchased a student ticket online for the 2 p.m. matinee and fired off a quick tweet:
Imagine my surprise when, just a few minutes later, I received a reply on Twitter from user @Benjaminluc77, saying, “Find 4 tickets under my name at matinee.” Huh? I assumed a friend was playing a trick on me. But who would go to such lengths? None of my friends at the time even knew who Millepied was. (This was well before Black Swan‘s release.) Naturally, I expressed my incredulity through more tweets:
Within a minute, I had a direct message from @Benjaminluc77 — he said he was indeed Millepied and that he had found my Tweet by Googling his name — with a phone number. Though skeptical, I called the number. I was floored when someone with an obvious French accent answered. “Just go to the theater, ask for the house manager, and tell her you’re a friend of Benjamin,” he said. “She knows you’re coming.” I still wasn’t entirely convinced this wasn’t a hoax, but I followed his instructions and, soon after arriving at the David Koch Theater, had a handwritten ticket for four seats, located fifth row center. (All of my close friends, unfortunately, were out of town or predisposed, so I sat alone, comfortably buffered on either side. I hoped in vain that Ms. Portman might join me.)
Once seated, I appreciated how remarkable this chain of events was. I sent Millepied a text message just before the lights began to dim: “Thank you so much. This is incredible.”
“You’re welcome. Enjoy,” he responded.
So, there you have it: Benjamin Millepied (who has since deleted that Twitter account) is a nice guy, and the dance world, New York City, and the Internet are often much smaller than they seem. Don’t let anyone tell you Twitter is a waste of time.