ROMEO AND JULIET (Royal Ballet): Live ballet at the cinema

royal-ballet-romeo-and-julietCreated in the era of Queen Elizabeth I, the story of Juliet and her Romeo tells a tragedy of young lovers whose love is destroyed by feud and fate. And whether watching a live staging of Romeo and Juliet is on your bucket list or not, the Royal Opera House’s live recording of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet is the production that will change the way you see this well-known story, the conflicts that exist around you, and ballet itself.

The brilliant camera work guides you to each important action and moment by zooming close to the action, making the film very ballet-beginner friendly. MacMillan created this ballet to the marvelous orchestra score by Prokofiev, and it was premiered by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House in 1965. Experiencing this June 2018 performance by the company that created and nurtured it over decades, without the cost of airfare to London, is a rare opportunity.

The title roles of Romeo and Juliet are danced by Matthew Ball and Yasmine Naghdi respectively. Their pristine techniques and elegant physicality are simply astonishing.  MacMillan’s choreography is extremely demanding and looks almost impossible for any human to manage. However, it seems that this impossible choreography is the key element that allow the dancers to be more expressive and live the life of the characters. The balcony scene is the iconic part of any film or live stage productions of the play. MacMillan’s balcony scene can be easily named the best love scene of all. Ball and Naghdi are breath-taking and overwhelmingly powerful. By witnessing the lovers’ passionate pas de deux to the magical music, those who have ever loved anyone would remember the happiest moment of their lives, and those who are yet to love someone would learn what love should feel like. Even though we all know how the story ends in tragedy, one can not help but pray that something as beautiful as this will never end.  

MacMillan’s production provides deep interpretation of the characters in every single role, and focuses not only on the relationship of the lovers but also on various relationships, such as a relationship between the mother and the daughter, the father and daughter, the husband and the wife, men and women, friends, etc. By enriching each character and the relationships he/she has, MacMillan visualized something abstract and easy to be missed, emotions of all kinds and tensions that leads to the tragic finale. All of the dancers on the stage, whatever their roles are, show incomparable talents and passions.

A former Royal Ballet principal dancer, Darcey Bussel and British television presenter, Ore Oduba provide some insights and tips about the ballet, making the experience more interesting.  There is also a surprise guest, guaranteed to make hard-core ballet fans in the theater happy. 

ROH: Romeo and Juliet screens at Ritz 5, Bryn Mawr Film Institute and some other movie theaters from July 2, 2019. Screening dates may vary. More information at rohcinematickets.com.

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About the author

Eri Yoneda

Eri Yoneda writes about dance and classical music for Phindie.