Boston Ballet's Romeo and Juliet

Few do not know the famous star-crossed lovers of William Shakespeare’s renowned tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.” It has been adapted many, many times, and has even been performed as a ballet. Over spring break, I watched Boston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet, and I enjoyed it very much. A disclaimer here would be that I am neither a dancer nor a theater professional; I watched the ballet simply as an enthusiastic spectator.

Running for about 2 hours and 45 minutes, including two intermissions, Romeo and Juliet is a very nice ballet to watch. I felt personally that it had less of a dance element to it: few of the dancers were ever on pointe, and was much more theatrical than some other ballets, like Swan Lake, for instance. However, it was definitely well performed, and there was no shortage of humor throughout, which is rare and impressive (at least for me), in a ballet.

The performance is incredibly expressive--from the opening scene which shows the two feuding families fighting in the square, to a playful Juliet with her nursemaid, the dancers do a brilliant job of going beyond movement execution and showing performance. It is not difficult to see just how loving the bond between Juliet and her nursemaid is, and it is similarly easy to see the slightly chilled and more cordial relation between Juliet and her parents.

 

                                                                                                           Boston Ballet in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet; photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet

 

The costume design was fitting, and very informative--two colors successfully represented the Montagues and the Capulets, and immediately drew out the contrast between these two feuding families. Romeo and Juliet, however, were often shown wearing more muted colors, and both are often wearing white--a symbol of their youthful, naive and innocent love, bound to end in disaster. The dress was also very flowy, and made for lovely, soft lines as Juliet danced.

 

                                                                                               Paulo Arrais and Misa Kuranaga in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet; photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet

 

I thought that the set was beautifully done, and was always tremendously reflective of the dominant emotions of the moment. White-washed moonlight for Romeo and Juliet’s first serious encounter, where they swear to marry to next day, a deep, ominous and windy nighttime for Juliet’s funeral, filled with sadness and despair (see below). The background and set was definitely a wonderful supplement to the performance, and allowed me to immerse myself in the plot unfolding on the stage.

 

                                                                                                            Boston Ballet in John Cranko's Romeo & Juliet; photo by Liza Voll; courtesy of Boston Ballet

 

The ballet culminates on the emotional apex of the two lovers' deaths--I would have liked to be able to witness the reconciliation between the two families, but the ending was able to leave me hanging on a somewhat cathartic thread, perhaps a more powerful ending than seeing the Montagues and the Capulets hug it out. All in all, Boston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is worth watching, whether you are an avid ballerina, or someone who doesn’t have any experience in the performance arts. The dance is easy to follow, not too technically focused, and can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages of backgrounds. It plays through Apr 8th. You can visit bostonballet.org for more information.