Romeo and Juliet
Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:07 AM
-- I have been thinking about whether certain soloist danseurs seem to be dancing better with, or look physically better next to, certain male principals. I think Hoven works very well with Hallberg, and Hoven is tall enough and substantial looking enough (in a good sense) that he does not get washed out by how classically distinctive and ideally-proportioned Hallberg seems. Jared Mathews on the other hand looks overshadowed physically by Hallberg's height.
True, Mathews' portrayal of Mercutio last evening was intended to be young. I had never before seen Mathews with a shaggy mop of ungelled/unmanipulated hair (with natural bang-type hair on his forehead) and playing a sort-of-wit-imbued role. Mathews is not a short danseur, but last night he looked shorter than Hallberg and Hoven and his jumps seemed more earth-bound than theirs. That being said, Mathews did well last night; the height of his jumps were never his strong point anyhow and it's hard to follow Cornejo in a role.
-- There are points in the ballet when the Montague trio are wonderfully playful and the interplay among them, filled with wit and charm, adds to the overall ballet. Examples are when the three (1) are dancing outside the Capulet castle, before they venture in, and (2) are playing with Juliet's nurse who had been asked to deliver a letter to Romeo. In the latter scene, the three put their Capulet ball black eye masks on and initially dance in a line parallel to the audience with their arms linked. Then, some of the trio play with the nurse's gown while others hold her arm. At one point, as the nurse is moving along with Mercutio and Benvolio on each side, Romeo sneaks in behind her and lifts the bottom of her skirt (she has other layers) behind her and sort of "hides behind the audience" behind that large skirt. Very cute sequence.
-- I remember Kent's Juliet tried to drink some of the poison from Romeo's vial, but then there was no more, before she stabbed herself. Gillian did not try to do that yesterday night.
-- Patrick Ogle was a pretty good Tybalt. Like Saveliev, he added a small beard and he looked pretty uptight and threatening.
-- This is the first time I have seen either Hallberg or Gomes meaningfully sword fight. Interestingly, they fight sort of in the styles that they dance. Hallberg has more classical posture even when he is fighting. He holds his "non-fighting" arm quite straight (not rigidly so) and at the level of his shoulders behind him as he fights. Until the death of Mercutio, Hallberg's sword fighting is more restrained than Marcelo's.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 10:16 AM
But then the MacMillan production in general did away with the underlying sense of pathos and dark premonition of Shakespear's original work.
With Sibley and Dowell in the Macmillan choreography these qualities were all well in evidence--as indeed, though given a somewhat different inflection, with Makarova and Dowell. (I never saw Seymour-Gable or Fonteyn-Nureyev, or Kirkland-Dowell, but I would be very surprised if their performances lacked in these qualities.) With the exception of Lavrosky's version of Romeo and Juliet, I do not think I have ever seen any production of the Prokoviev score that I did not think was very dancer dependent for its interest and emotional power, thought the stunning sets and scenery of Nureyev's version almost carried my interest entirely on their own. (I have not seen Ashton's or Neumeier's versions though...)
Of the Romeos I had the opportunity to see in any version of the Prokoviev score(which do not include Corella but do include Nureyev, Wall, Stiefel, and Bocca), I thought Dowell was by far and away the greatest--the one who most suggested the depths of Romeo's inner life and thus also most set Romeo apart from everyone else on stage, except for Juliet, and who did so through dancing of the greatest nuance, elegance, and ardor. (Edited a bit later to add: I can infer raised eyebrows, since Nureyev always set himself apart on stage, but when I saw him he wasn't setting himself apart as 'Romeo' or connecting the apartness TO his Juliet.)
Let me add: very many thanks for all these reports--and semi-apologies for invoking another generation of dancers. (Only semi apologies because, for a certain generation of ballet fan, referring to a description of Corella as the best Romeo or even calling Ferri--whom I have seen as Juliet--the best Juliet is like throwing red meat in front of a bull; of course we can't help ourselves .)
If all goes well, then I will make it to New York and have the chance to compare Halberg and Gomez myself this weekend (board moderators: we need a 'superstition' emoticon--perhaps a little yellow head spitting onto the ground or tossing salt over its shoulder).
Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:12 AM
No semi-apologies necessary, Drew, that was a wonderful post.
I, too, have enjoyed reading all these reports.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:17 AM
I'm at the matinee right now with Cory Sterns and Hee Seo
I feel like Cory hasn't had time to develop his character yet. He was just smiling throughout the first act without much expression. Hee is so fluid and dances with such musicality. She really hears the Prokofiev score. Actually Cory seems to be dancing through the music while Hee IS the music.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:23 AM
He really is such a pleasure to watch.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 11:59 AM
Posted 07 July 2010 - 03:00 PM
After seeing three performances and the previous reviews here, I realized that I had wanted to see my own version of Romeo, which might have come from the Shakespeare’s play or the famous movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, a shy, reserved, dreamy, romantic boy. So, at first, I was perplexed by a flamboyant, cocksure, prankish Romeo, which might be even offensive to someone who cherishes a lyrical Romeo. Now, I think that is more practically plausible character which the only son of a rich family may have (though I do not know much of MacMillan, I think MacMillan intentionally got rid of nobility from Romeo, and portrayed him as a guy playing with everything in the world, including Rosaline and harlots, out of much confidence, then finally being played with by the fate).
Gomes’s Romeo doesn’t change even after he met Juliet. People don’t change simply because they got something they want. Rather, they change only after they lose something precious. So, I think the time when Mercutio died and Romeo was sentenced to exile was the real awakening moment to Romeo, not the time when Romeo met Juliet.
After that, Romeo clearly changed. Gomes seemed quite desperate and determined when he danced the last PDD with Kent at the beginning of the third Act. Though I wanted to see more sentimentally sweet PDD because that was the last PDD between Romeo and Juliet, but I agreed with his interpretation and expression. Through the death of Mercutio, Romeo had realized that the quite capricious destiny might easily deprive him, the son of Montague, of anything, even something important to him. And, ironically at that time he finally found something he could not lose, Juliet, the love. So, when Romeo found Juliet dead, when nothing meaningful was left with him, he abandoned his life, like nothing, without hesitation.
While Gomes showed a basic framework as above, Kent embroidered it with her exquisite expression of joy, love, sorrow, despair. She seemed to protest the destiny without a moan, but with a great courage. Gomes and Kent were quite a contrast to each other, in terms of character, in this ballet. It's all the more tragic that with such cooperation between two different characters (i.e., with every means available to human), their attempt to overcome the fate failed. I was reminded of a novel by John Steinbeck, “Of Mice and Man”, and a poem by Robert Burns, “To a mouse”, which gave the title to the novel:
“The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew, and leave us nothing but grief and pain”
It doesn’t seem that Gomes (and MacMillan) was successful enough in getting understanding of his interpretation, maybe because MacMillan is not as famous as Shakespeare or DiCaprio, and everyone has his or her version of Romeo and Juliet. I thought briefly that a dancer who is more of a technician might fit better for this role, though it is known to be an acting role, so that each audience may imagine whatever he wants.
Regardless of all those interpretations above, I was deeply moved by his explosion of sorrow. So genuine, so grave. I am wondering whether Gomes has a deep well of the grief at the bottom of his heart.
My final words are on Hee Seo, today’s Juliet. She was fluid, as someone said. When she stood at the balcony under the moonlight, she looked breathtakingly sensuous. Just before she died, she stretched out her arm toward Romeo, with a faint smile around her lips (when her arm touched Romeo, the smile turned into a joy). So sad.
One more thing - I would like to add my apologies for this long review, without much mentioning the dancing itself. As I haven't seen many ballet performances so far and do not know much about the ballet, I naturally came to focus on the interpretation and understanding of the character itself.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 04:03 PM
There's no reason for any apology -- keep the thoughts coming! What did you think of the Hallberg/Murphy performance?
Posted 07 July 2010 - 04:18 PM
Thanks for the insight into Gomes's interpretation:
Posted 07 July 2010 - 05:36 PM
Ambonnay, I am going to see Hallberg again on Saturday. I think I can write something about his dancing/acting after that performance. I also look forward to your continued review about Hallberg.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 06:53 PM
The lifts in this ballet are very difficult for the men to carry off. In fact, I have noticed that the men tend to give up the role of Romeo relatively early as compared to other ballets. Tall, robust women like Wiles and Part are generally not cast as Juliet, I think, because of the lifts. The women that tend to get cast are short and small, or very thin women like Kent and Vishneva.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 07:44 PM
I've always admired Reyes for her quicksilver steps, impeccable musical timing, and charming, if quirky, personality, and this season I enjoyed her as Prudence in "Lady of the Camellias" and especially in "The Dream." But I was even more impressed by how she danced as Juliet in Act I. At the party, when she is dancing with Paris, it seemed like carried the movement seamlessly through each musical phrase, like it was one long breath. For me, she really BECAME the music, and made me hear the score/see the steps anew.
Cornejo was a slightly more earnest, boyish, soft-spoken Romeo than Gomes, and he and Reyes made quite a sweet couple!
I have to go but I'll just say that I really enjoyed Simkin as Benvolio. There were a few times where he got out of sync with Romeo and Mercutio, but he just has this star quality and I couldn't help but focus on him.
And lastly, I loved Stella as Lady Capulet. I thought she was very convincing after Tybalt's death.
Posted 08 July 2010 - 02:49 AM
Gomes' lifts looked somewhat more effortless than Hallberg's, esp in the "he thinks Juliet is dead/when she is sleeping" scene in the Capulet tombs. Gomes made Kent look lighter than Hallberg made Gillian look, and there was a slightly better echoing of the PDD from the balcony scene with Gomes/Kent in the Caputlet tomb scene. That might be because Kent is probably a little bit lighter than Murphy weight-wise, so it was easier to make lifting Kent's "dead" body easier. I'm going to pay attention to this in Hallberg/Osipova and report back, because Osipova might be a bit easier to lift.
Note the comment about about looking effortless does not mean that I preferred Gomes' lifts. Hallberg's lifts still had Hallberg with a certain beauty of line, while he was lifting, that made them special. Also, in the balcony scene, Hallberg's movements while he had a loose off-cream tunic on and while his tunic and hair were almost "billowing in the wind from the movements" looked romantic and lyrical.
Posted 08 July 2010 - 01:43 PM
You are kidding, right? I can't imagine either Michelle or Veronika allowing herself(Juliet) to be abused and hit by both her father and Paris. Both ladies would probably hit back! Or how about jumping into her nurse's lap! . And the lifts, the lifts! Yowza!
But a few years back Veronika did a very credible and moving Lady Capulet. And I suppose if Michelle were not a principle she could do one of the Harlots OK. But those roles sort of seem wasted on almost anyone. It grieves me to see Misty and Kristi still doing them, however good they are. There just aren't any roles for the secondary female women in this ballet.
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