National Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is the Bard’s Work in its Most Beautiful Form
The National Ballet of Canada has always delivered in every production they have staged. With Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, they have simply out done themselves. The tragic love story has been given an all new canvas on which choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has worked his magic.
Alexei Ratmansky first choreographed Romeo and Juliet for The National Ballet of Canada in 2011, in celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary. The ballet opened to rave reviews and after seeing Tuesday’s performance, there is no doubt why. Set to the beautiful score by Sergei Prokofiev, Ratmansky has presented the Bard’s story in its most refreshing form yet. Prokofiev’s energetic score has been complimented with Ratmansky’s simple but unique choreography, using the beauty of movement to highlight emotions, characteristics and expressions. To use movement alone to highlight such an emotional and iconic story should be evidence enough of Ratmansky’s mastery.
The opening night performance featured a group of excellent dancers. Having just stepped off John Neumeier’s Nijinsky, Guillaume Côté filled the shoes of the oh so romantic Romeo, gifting audiences with what is perhaps the most beautiful representation of the Bard’s character. His movements captured Romeo’s bold nature and charming personality, balancing an energetic performance with elegance. Elena Lobsanova’s Juliet is an adorable sight to watch. Lobsanova captures her characters purity and innocence within her dance, showing the growth and maturity of her character as the production progresses. Côté and Lobsanova share great chemistry on stage, magnifying the relationship between their characters.
As much as the story focuses on the two star-crossed lovers, it would be hard to ignore the elephant in the room that was Piotr Stanczyk’s Mercutio. A significant character in the Bard’s story, Mercutio is the catalyst of sorts in every situation. Stanczyk captures the fun-loving, energetic and witty-side of his character, providing comic moments throughout the first two act’s, but also manages to capture his moody side; an important characteristic vital to the development of the plot. Stanczyk’s energetic performance makes him one of the most memorable performers of the evening.
The costumes, the set, the performances, the lighting, the choreography; all come together to create a truly remarkable production. Having studied the Bard’s classic for nearly six years, what was presented to audiences that fine Tuesday evening was an iconic story in its most beautiful form. In literature studies, William Shakespeare’s works would be studied and analysed and then compared to other forms, such as film adaptations and stage productions. The ballet captures the beauty of what Shakespeare hoped to accomplish with Romeo and Juliet, using beautiful dance and thought-provoking music to present the emotional story of two star-crossed lovers. Go see the production for the masterpiece that it is.
Romeo and Juliet plays at the Four Season Centre for the Performing Arts until March 17th. For tickets and information on the show, please visit national.ballet.ca or call 416-345-9595.
Cover Photo: Guillaume Côté & Elena Lobsanova in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Bruce Zinger.