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sandik

Romeo and Juliet - multiple versions

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After reading some of the comments on the new production at the Joffrey by K Pastor, I was thinking about a conference on R&J ballets that the Dance Critics Association presented in the last part of the previous century (my, I feel older).  They did a little census, and came up with at least 25 different productions (both in and out of repertories) and it makes me wonder, how many can we account for here on Ballet Alert.  Counting on fingers (and perhaps on toes as well) how many have you seen?  And which of those (the ballets, not the digits) stand out?

 

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Without thinking really hard, I can remember six productions that I've seen live (Macmillan, Cranko, Stowell, Grigorovich, Donnellan, and Maillot) and easily twice than on film/video.

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Seen live at least once (not necessarily well remembered): Lavrosky, Grigorovich, Cranko, Macmillan, Araiza, Pink, Maillot. 

 

Edited to add: Martins (for Hartford ballet [sic])

Edited by Drew

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The productions I've seen IRL are:  Lavrovsky, Grigorovich, Duato, MacMillan, Ashton, Cranko, Tomasson and Martins.

 

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Ive been lamenting for too many years that NO ONE has revived Antony Tudor's R&J and its gorgeous Renaissance sets. (Jo Meilziner??)  The usual excuse I have seen is that it is too expensive to revive it with the original sets.  It is  quite different from the other many versions.  It is only one hour long and uses the music of Delius.  This one is an original and imitates no one. I had hoped NYCB would have revived it in homage to Tudor, but we got Martins dreary version instead.

Edited by atm711

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22 hours ago, Drew said:

Seen live at least once (not necessarily well remembered): Lavrosky, Grigorovich, Cranko, Macmillan, Araiza, Pink, Maillot. 

 

Edited to add: Martins (for Hartford ballet [sic])

 

I'm most curious about the Pink, since I don't know his work at all -- what do you remember of it?

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21 hours ago, Cygnet said:

The productions I've seen IRL are:  Lavrovsky, Grigorovich, Duato, MacMillan, Ashton, Cranko, Tomasson and Martins.

 

 

I guess I missed hearing about a Duato R&J -- what is it like?

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1 hour ago, atm711 said:

Ive been lamenting for too many years that NO ONE has revived Antony Tudor's R&J and its gorgeous Renaissance sets. (Jo Meilziner??)  The usual excuse I have seen is that it is too expensive to revive it with the original sets.  It is  quite different from the other many versions.  It is only one hour long and uses the music of Delius.  This one is an original and imitates no one. I had hoped NYCB would have revived it in homage to Tudor, but we got Martins dreary version instead.

 

I imagine there are many of us here who would join you in that lament -- perhaps we should all start howling at the moon.

 

I've heard the same justification for skipping it (money), but also the "no one remembers it anymore."  sigh.

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Tudor's R&J was famously designed by Eugene Berman, see credits below:
Romeo and Juliet :    Narrative ballet in one act, based on Shakespeare's play. Chor: Antony Tudor; mus: Frederick Delius (A walk to paradise garden from A village Romeo and Juliet, Eventyr, Over the hills and far away, Brigg fair, arr. by Antal Dorati); scen & cos: Eugene Berman. First perf: (incomplete): New York, Metropolitan Opera, Apr 6, 1943, Ballet Theatre. First perf (complete): Apr 10, 1943.//Revival: Stockholm, Royal Opera House, Dec 30, 1962, Royal Swedish Ballet.//Revival: New York, New York State Theatre, July 22, 1971, American Ballet Theatre; scen & cos: Eugene Berman; lighting: Nananne Porcher.

 

ABT revived an excerpt in 2008, billed as ROMEO AND JULIET (Romeo's Farewell). (Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Saveliev were the first cast offered that season.)

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3 hours ago, sandik said:

 

I guess I missed hearing about a Duato R&J -- what is it like?

 

Duato's "R & J" is danced by the Mikhailovsky.  I saw it in winter 2012 and it's in two acts.  

It's essentially modern dance.  Juliet and all the ladies are off pointe in slippers.  In the bedroom pdd, the lovers are barefoot. As I recall, the lovers' pdds are wrestling matches and they each start in orbit.  IMO that's problematic because contrary to the narrative they have nowhere to go.  His version depends heavily on group dances, is sparing on character and dramatic development, with reflex, and at times jarring visual illustration of Prokofiev's score.  The Mik's audience loves it, as they do his version of "Sleeping Beauty." Consequently it's been retained in the rep since his departure to Berlin.  

    

Edited by Cygnet

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6 hours ago, sandik said:

 

I'm most curious about the Pink, since I don't know his work at all -- what do you remember of it?

 

I saw the Pink version well over 10 years ago w. Atlanta Ballet. Below is an excerpt of what I wrote on BalletTalk about it at that time. (I hope I would be a little more generous now, but I do prefer the Maillot version which the company danced in 2014 and 2015.): 

 

"[Pink's] Romeo and Juliet uses the Prokofiev score and is very Macmillanesque. (According to the program Pink trained at the Royal and later worked as an assistant to Nureyev for a production of his -- Nureyev's, that is -- Romeo and Juliet).

 

"The few outright original touches include a voice over at the very beginning and closing of the ballet. The overture opens with clashes of thunder and and flashing lights to suggest the accompanying lightning and we hear "Two houses both alike in dignity etc." while we see behind a scrim the two lovers standing side by side and then collapsing; at the ballet's final notes, just as Juliet dies, we hear, similarly the play's final lines. I was actually rather touched by the end of this performance and the voice over at that exact moment came close to spoiling the moment for me.

 

"Everything in between the voice overs was pretty familiar. The opening fight scene was staged a little more lowbrow than Macmillan's (fewer swords, more kicked crotches, and lots of food being hurled about); later in the ballet Juliet kept getting into wide open second positions on point -- presumably to express sexual arousal, and she appears at the end of Act II to witness the pile up of dead bodies (Mercutio/Tybalt). The Verona festivities on the whole were a somewhat simplified version of what one usually gets, the 'pillow' dance music at the ball given some violent, 'macho' touches -- the men's part is performed as a dagger dance and, well, I could list a few other variant details, but they hardly changed the basic Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet template. (Also, my memory of other productions, Macmillan et. al., has become increasingly vague, so I may have thought something was 'original' that wasn't.)

In its at times watered-down and at times tarted-up familiarity, this was very much a provincial Romeo and Juliet, but it had the benefits of a good live orchestra, serviceable sets and even better costumes. Most importantly, it had the benefits of a company that looked to be giving themselves over to the whole performance with a great deal of energy and concentration."

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The Royal Danes dance the Neumeier version which is on YT. I think it's a very lovely version.

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7 hours ago, rg said:

Tudor's R&J was famously designed by Eugene Berman, see credits below:
Romeo and Juliet :    Narrative ballet in one act, based on Shakespeare's play. Chor: Antony Tudor; mus: Frederick Delius (A walk to paradise garden from A village Romeo and Juliet, Eventyr, Over the hills and far away, Brigg fair, arr. by Antal Dorati); scen & cos: Eugene Berman. First perf: (incomplete): New York, Metropolitan Opera, Apr 6, 1943, Ballet Theatre. First perf (complete): Apr 10, 1943.//Revival: Stockholm, Royal Opera House, Dec 30, 1962, Royal Swedish Ballet.//Revival: New York, New York State Theatre, July 22, 1971, American Ballet Theatre; scen & cos: Eugene Berman; lighting: Nananne Porcher.

 

ABT revived an excerpt in 2008, billed as ROMEO AND JULIET (Romeo's Farewell). (Xiomara Reyes and Gennadi Saveliev were the first cast offered that season.)

 

As always, you're an invaluable resource.  Did you see the 2008 performance?

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6 hours ago, Cygnet said:

 

Duato's "R & J" is danced by the Mikhailovsky.  I saw it in winter 2012 and it's in two acts.  

It's essentially modern dance.  Juliet and all the ladies are off pointe in slippers.  In the bedroom pdd, the lovers are barefoot. As I recall, the lovers' pdds are wrestling matches and they each start in orbit.  IMO that's problematic because contrary to the narrative they have nowhere to go.  His version depends heavily on group dances, is sparing on character and dramatic development, with reflex, and at times jarring visual illustration of Prokofiev's score.  The Mik's audience loves it, as they do his version of "Sleeping Beauty." Consequently it's been retained in the rep since his departure to Berlin.  

    

 

The Duato work I've seen so far (Jardi Tancat and Rassemblement) has a very strong emotional resonance, whether it tells a story or not -- I imagine he would make a compelling R&J, even though it might not work from a strict classical vocabulary.

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4 hours ago, canbelto said:

The Royal Danes dance the Neumeier version which is on YT. I think it's a very lovely version.

 

What makes it distinctive, for you?

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4 hours ago, Drew said:

 

I saw the Pink version well over 10 years ago w. Atlanta Ballet.

...

"Everything in between the voice overs was pretty familiar. The opening fight scene was staged a little more lowbrow than Macmillan's (fewer swords, more kicked crotches, and lots of food being hurled about); later in the ballet Juliet kept getting into wide open second positions on point -- presumably to express sexual arousal, and she appears at the end of Act II to witness the pile up of dead bodies (Mercutio/Tybalt). The Verona festivities on the whole were a somewhat simplified version of what one usually gets, the 'pillow' dance music at the ball given some violent, 'macho' touches -- the men's part is performed as a dagger dance and, well, I could list a few other variant details, but they hardly changed the basic Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet template.

 

The Maillot has almost no weapons at all, just a blackjack, really.  It makes the fight scenes a bit more rough, but I appreciated the direct quality.  And the crowd scenes have a lot of momentum.

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The Maillot just seems conceptually much more interesting than the Pink version in its way of trying to frame the story (or comment on it) as a play of fate and memory -- and refreshing in its eschewing of stage-Renaissance literalness. The directness of the violence in the Maillot felt quite genuine too--a little disturbing even, but not just theatrical showiness.

 

(Despite my comment above re stage-Renaisance literalness, I would be very happy to see the Lavrosky again which had levels of social detail that made the score/story alive and galvanizing to me in ways the Macmillan had not for some time. And I remember the sets for Lavrosky's version, even on tour--where apparently they couldn't use all of them--as stunningly gorgeous.)

Edited by Drew

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I agree that the Maillot has a great sense of directness.  I'm a little distressed at the wholesale borrowing from other choreographers (Ailey's Revelations is a fertile source), and thought that the Friar was a bit over the top, but I love his version of the Nurse, and the byplay between R and J in the balcony scene.

 

And yes, it would be wonderful to revisit the Lavrovsky.

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I fondly remember Michael Smuin's version from 1977, for San Francisco Ballet (later telecast on PBS). While original, it was in the tradition of the MacMillan version.

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Kent Stowell did a beautiful version named "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet" to a Tchaikovsky score he and Stewart Kershaw (then PNB Music Director) developed from existing scores.  I'll never forget Fleming Halby's Friar Lawrence performing the marriage scene to the Preghiera movement of "Mozartiana."  Mime in the old school Danish tradition.

 

For many young dancers at PNB, this was their first foray into full-length dramatic ballets, and it showed off the company beautifully.

 

I also remember seeing a wonderful "Romeo and Juliet" on YouTube which I can't find anymore.  The Juliet was a lovely blond Dutch dancer, I think from Dutch National Ballet, and it may have been Rudi van Danzig's version.  I can only find short excerpts of it now, sadly.

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On ‎4‎/‎4‎/‎2017 at 10:15 AM, atm711 said:

Ive been lamenting for too many years that NO ONE has revived Antony Tudor's R&J and its gorgeous Renaissance sets. (Jo Meilziner??)  The usual excuse I have seen is that it is too expensive to revive it with the original sets.  It is  quite different from the other many versions.  It is only one hour long and uses the music of Delius.  This one is an original and imitates no one. I had hoped NYCB would have revived it in homage to Tudor, but we got Martins dreary version instead.

The "too expensive" excuse for not reviving the Tudor Romeo and Juliet drives me up (and over) the wall when I consider how much money companies waste on lousy, expensive productions. How much did ABT squander on the Gelsey Kirkland Sleeping Beauty? Or The Pied Piper? And ABT certainly found the money for Ratmansky's lavish Sleeping Beauty and Whipped Cream (neither of which are lousy but sure are expensive).

 

I, too, thought that City Ballet staging the Tudor Romeo and Juliet would have been a masterstroke: Balanchine praised the Tudor version, it's in one-act; thereby fitting the City Ballet aesthetic, and Martins could have tweaked McKenzie for his stewardship of the Tudor repertory. It would have been win-win-win for Martins if he had done it in 2008, when, lest people forget, he was still generating an enormous amount of criticism for the state of City Ballet.

Edited by miliosr

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I remember the Smuin one as well, Natalia, though I only saw the broadcast... I thought it was quite successful (but I was  teenager at the time, I don't know what I'd think now...) I'm a little surprised no one else does it...

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Miliosr... doesn't the length make it kind of an odd duck for a revival project (do patrons expect a full evening for an expensive revival)?  I would love to see Tudor's take on Shakespeare...

Edited by Amy Reusch
unfortunate wording.

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I thought the Tudor was postponed (or "postponed") for so long so that it's like "Cotillon":  no one remembers it enough to revive the whole thing.

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11 hours ago, Natalia said:

I fondly remember Michael Smuin's version from 1977, for San Francisco Ballet (later telecast on PBS). While original, it was in the tradition of the MacMillan version.

 

I remember the Smuin from the PBS broadcast as well -- especially the moment in the opening crowd scene where a young boy is killed in the fracas and his mother rushed downstage with him in her arms, shaming everyone involved.  I can only imagine what that was like in the theater.

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