Sunday, 21 April 2013

Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, National Ballet of Canada, Sadler's Wells - reviewed on 17th April
Elena Lobsanova and Guillaume Cote
Photo: Bruce Zinger
I wrote a brief review of Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet, performed by the National Ballet of Canada, earlier this week, but I wanted to consider the ballet in more detail on this blog. Here are my thoughts:
1. Ratmansky's choreography has a refreshing modern feel, with stomach contractions and hip sways. 
2. Ratmansky's whores have wavy hair rather than the curly locks of MacMillan's, but their bright red tights make them just as distinctive.
3. The fighting scenes are very choreographed, with spins and jumps punctuating every hit of the swords. Also, do people really sword-fight at parties? (Then again, do people really dance in perfectly regimented formations at parties?)
4. Richard Hudson's costumes are inspired by period clothing, but have a bright and contemporary feel.
5. In Juliet's opening solo, Ratmansky makes her much more like a naïve, sprightly teenager than MacMillan's young Juliet who plays with a rag doll.

6. Scene changes are smooth and neat but it seems odd that more than half the stage is curtained off in Juliet's bedroom.

Guillaume Cote, Piotr Stanczyk and Robert Stephen
Photo: Bruce Zinger
7. The Masks dance (pictured) is delightful with great choreography, big jumps and some very amusing comedy creeping.
8. Heather Ogden as Juliet appeared to rather like Paris, and was only interested in Romeo after he virtually stalked her around the Act I ball. Ratmansky's Romeo is persistent. 
9. Romeo and Juliet strangely have their first duet while everyone else is eating just metres away.
10. Ratmansky includes some excellent funny moments, especially for Benvolio and Mercutio.

11. The choreography is so busy that there is little time for emotional expression. Stillness is underused and it is only when Mercutio is killed that Guillaume Côté was able to display Romeo's anguish.
12. The dream-like sequence where Juliet imagines what will happen when she takes the potion is genius. It makes the tragedy all the more touching.
13. As does the fact that Juliet wakes up before Romeo has died and they have a few final moments together before he collapses and she commits suicide.
14. This is a good ballet - entertaining and with a clear narrative, but I missed the drama of MacMillan's choreography.

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