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Colorado Ballet's "Romeo & Juliet - Sumptuous
It is delightful to see the Colorado Ballet presenting a best loved "story" concert, recently choreographed for another "Regional" company. The current case being Alun Jones' version of Romeo & Juliet, which he originally set on the Louisville (KY) Ballet, where he worked until 2002. The ballet has a long history, being based on a Shakespearean play of about 1594, and first performed as a "dance" in 1811 by the Royal Danish Ballet - a ballet in five acts during which the tragedy was actually mimed. The popularity of the ballet is exceeded only by "The Nutcracker," and it is safe to say many have seen it enough times to compare choreography and how dancers embody roles. Since the early 20th century it has been performed - as by Colorado Ballet - to the Prokofiev score. That score is at times bright and cheerful, other times foreboding, and tragic. Jones treats it almost as program music, with the result that his ensembles sometimes become ponderous music visualizations. However, his use of the music in love duets, tragic duets, and even fight scenes is exhilarating, making up for some long, long market and carnival scenes. Jones story line is aptly maintained by use of gesture so prevalent in Classical and Romantic ballets, and the Colorado Ballet dancers know just how to do same.
In the opening night performance (February 25, 2011) Maria Mosina danced the role of Juliet wonderfully, as did Alexei Tyukov the role of Romeo. Both dancers found the characters totally, Mosina naive, hopeful, loving, and distraught, Tyukov wastrel, then smitten, deeply in love, and devastated. Their duets were stunning. In those duets Jone's seemed to use Romeo lifting Juliet into high, high lifts as metaphors for her trust in him, much as Petipa used Odette's sharing of weight with Siegfried in "Swan Lake." Their final duet, in which Tyukov danced with the "dead" body of Mosina was remarkable, with Mosina like a rag doll even as she worked with Tyukov in the lifts. That duet was such a reversal for Mosina who danced with the "dead" body of her lover in Anthony Tudor's "Echoing of Trumpets."
Dimitry Trubchanov was quite wonderful and convincing in his role of Tybalt - nemesis of Romeo, killer of Mercutio, and victim of Romeo's sword. His fight scenes with Jesse Marks as Mercutio and Tyukov were delightfully violent in precision and drama. Marks' death scene - which goes on and on - was well done. Viacheslav Buchkovskiy danced the role of Benvolio, adopting totally to his role as debauched protector of Romeo.
Elizabeth Shipiatsky was a dutiful nursemaid to Juliet, finding virtuosity and timing in a comedic scene with Marks, Buchkovskiy, and Tyokov as she delivered a note to Romeo. And Cara Cooper danced a delightfully wanton gypsy seeking attention of all the above men.
The costumes for Colorado Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet" are sumptuously royal when called for, and sparse as needed in virtuoso duets. There is one set, which is manipulated well by sections added and removed from the fly space, and props are minimal. If you want to see stunning version of this classic, don't miss this performance, which continues at the Ellie Calkins Opera House through March 6th. Casts will differ.
Donald K. Atwood
© Copyright World Dance Reviews 2011