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Romeo and Juliet

  • Dance, Ballet
Ako Kondo and Chengwu Gu as star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet
Photograph: Supplied/Pierre Toussaint

Time Out says

Shakespeare's aching tragedy dances back into the Australian ballet's 2021 season

“Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow,” says Juliet Capulet to her star-crossed lover Romeo Montague before a plague on both their houses leads to you know what. It’s a story we know like the back of our hands yet never tire of reliving, whether it’s on the big screen care of Baz Luhrmann, or the return of the Australian Ballet’s most celebrated performances.

John Cranko’s epic version of Shakespeare’s most heartfelt tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, is reimagined with Ako Kondo and Chengwu Guo in the lead roles. It premiered in 1962, the year the Australian Ballet was founded. The company first performed it in 1974 but hasn't performed it since 2003. New artist director David Hallberg felt it was time to reignite their teenaged drama, as two powerful families go to war over the fierce-burning flames young love.

Even the meddling of Stalin couldn’t crush Sergei Prokofiev’s sweeping score, a work so intricate that the Bolshoi Ballet’s dancers initially resisted too, pronouncing it ‘undanceable’. It’s unforgettable is what it is, and Jürgen Rose’s stunning set and costume design are sure to elevate this Verona-set melodrama even more.

“As an audience member, the most touching aspect of Romeo and Juliet is the unfolding of the story in front of your very eyes,” Hallberg says. “I have danced performances of Romeo where the audience was with us in every scene. They become a part of the ballet. I lost myself through expressions of love, elation, vengeance and ultimately death, and the audience left the performance as heartbroken as the characters on stage.”

Written by
Stephen A Russell


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