Friday, February 12, 2010

Catching up: Romeo and Juliet Without Words

I've known and loved Prokoviev's Romeo and Juliet score for more than fifteen years, but until last month, I'd never seen the ballet. Films, musical theatre adaptations, puppet shows (in miniature and well, puppet-sized), directed the play twice (three when you count a staged reading); I've performed the text, all seen and done. But never the ballet? How's that possible?

The opening night included sumptuous costumes (by the dozens), outstanding dancing, and an absolutely perfect take on the tragedy. A couple of favorite moments: Richmond Ballet master and, on RJ, choreographer Malcolm Burns allows Igor Antonov and Vallerie Tellmann the time needed to fall in love through prolonged eye contact---such a rarity in any theatre. He also even has the chorus land one dance in which bodies stop moving a second before dresses settle around the dancers, to the last notes of the moment. Simply brilliant.

It was a gorgeous treatment throughout, delighting small children, adults, everyone, and had me a little choked up. At Mercutio's wounding, a man two rows in front of me leaned over to his wife and whispered, with a big smile on his face:
"A scratch, a scratch."
Richmond's terrific offerings include outdoor folk and Shakespeare festivals, performances by symphonies on piers beside the river, (in RJ the Symphony seemed so delightfully comfortable with the dancers---how cool to see their collaboration with the ballet grow with the advantages of the new home), but the ballet company, from design and conception (ages ago, with sets refurbished and looking great), to the astounding artists on stage, I was just thrilled to call myself a Richmonder.

1 comment:

Grant Mudge said...

On Sunday I was able to see the lover's duet with Kirk Henning and Shira Lanyl. Both couples were achingly beautiful, and what the younger couple provided in energy, the experienced dancers augmented with delicious acting. I felt privileged to see both.