(This video short documentary on MacMillian's "Romeo and Juliet" brings much apposite historical information. Knowing this will enhance the viewer's appreciation of this ballet). Review: There is no better place to see the classic Romeo & Juliet than in Shakespeare’s own birth country –England. On my recent trip to London, I caught the Royal Ballet’s production of choreographer Kenneth Macmillan’s classic that originally debuted in 1965. Music composed by the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953) premiered by the Kirov Ballet in 1940. Conductor Koen Kessels led the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House superbly.The grand Op.64 Act I; No. 13 Dance of the Knights was magnificent – haunting, telling, with subtle undertones of the romance that is about to ensue. Director Kevin O’Hare keeps the legendary Macmillan’s brilliant vision alive. Known for conceiving expressionist ballet his brand extends the traditional dance into verismo, a style of Italian realism ─ dramatic and large physical reactions. The ballet-acting that he pioneered is truly gratifying to watch – highlighting the artistry of the dancers and evoking more emotion. It is in Act III, Scene 4, where we see the dramatics in action ─ Romeo is grief stricken when he finds Juliet lifeless ─ shocked he drags her limp body on stage like a rag. Latvian dancer Timofej Andrijashenko (Romeo) was a guest artist from La Scala Theatre Ballet. Andrijashenko danced superbly reminiscent of Nureyev in form and style. His roles with the La Scalla Theatre Ballet include Albrecht (Giselle), Romeo (Romeo and Juliet), Basilio (Don Quixote), Des Grieux (Manon), Cavalier (Balanchine’s The Nutcracker), Lensky (Onegin), Slave (Excelsior), Prince Désiré (The Sleeping Beauty), Siegfried (Swan Lake), Golden Slave (Scherazade), Armand (La Dame aux camélias), Conrad (Le Corsaire) and roles in La Valse and Symphony in C, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Balanchine), Petite Mort, Boléro, and Woolf Works (McGregor). O’Hare, saw Andrijashenko dance while attending La Scala’s opening of Wayne McGregor’s ballet Woolf Works in the role of Septimus. Andrijashenko first danced the role of Romeo in Kenneth MacMillian’s production at La Scalla in 2016. Melissa Hamilton expresses the role of Juliet as MacMilllian intended. From the first pas de deux in Act I when the two young lovers first meet we see the sheer magic. A long moment as their eyes meet and Hamilton’s Juliet becomes the MacMillian Juliet ─ “the driving force of the ballet, headstrong, vulnerable and stubborn,” writes Macmillan's biographer Jann Perry. Hamilton’s roles with The Royal Ballet include Manon, Juliet, Mary Vetsera (Mayerling), Raven Girl, the Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker), Queen of the Dryads (Don Quixote), Olga (Onegin), the Lilac Fairy and Princess Florine (The Sleeping Beauty), Terpsichore (Apollo), Bethana Waltz and Alaskan Rag (Elite Syncopations) and roles in Afternoon of a Faun, Symphonic Variations, ‘Rubies’ (Jewels), Fool’s Paradise, Requiem, Tryst, Las hermanas, Agon, Gloria, DGV: Danse à grande vitesse, Serenade, The Concert, The Judas Tree and Song of the Earth. It is interesting to note that Shakespeare lowered Juliet’s age to that of his daughter Susaana, who was 13 when he wrote the story. Another interesting discourse is that apparently the composer Prokofiev wanted to alter the ending having Juliet awake and the lovers dance into a happy ending. But that did not happen. You may want to check out the Royal Ballet website for upcoming productions and exciting events. One exciting event is purchasing a ticket to Insights where you can watch Royal Ballet dancers and coaches in action as they rehearse for performances on the Covent Garden stage. Here is an exciting YouTube video of the Romeo & Juliet Rehearsal. Be sure to catch the production relayed live to cinemas on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. In Santa Monica at the Royal on July 10, 2019. For more information: roh.org.uk/cinema This production was on May 4, 2019, at Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens, London.
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