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Romeo & Juliet


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I went to see Alina and Johan in R&J on Wednesday night, to celebrate various birthdays that week (inc. Danciegirlmaria). It was completely amazing! :flowers: Alina seems to be gaining a new dramatic depth to her dancing. She's got an amazing supple back, and I loved the way that she let it melt around Romeo in the balcony pas de deux. Johan Kobborg, however, was absolutely, unbelievably, fantastically amazing! He's the only Romeo I've ever seen (and that includes the video of Nureyev) to really get his feet around MacMillan's tricky footwork to the extent that he found little nuances of character in it. He was completely believable from start to finish, putting in little details of characteration that made Romeo really seem like a real person. His partnership with Alina is a definite must see for anyone who is close enough to get to the ROH.

Our college got us tickets to see the company in class the next morning. Although I don't really want to comment on individual dancers (I know how much I hate being watched in class myself!) I would like to say what an amazing opportunity it was, and how much I enjoyed it. It was really kind of the dancers to let us watch, and it was an experience none of us will ever forget!

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Hear, Hear!

I'm honestly not being biased but Johan and Alina were so wonderful. I really felt that wednesday's cast was perfect! Their characteristions were deep and multi-layered: Johan, before my very eyes, transformed himself from the 31 year old dancer I know (and LOVE) into the young and rather nieve teenage Romeo! The balcony PdD was sheer heaven, and small details such as the way he grabbed Lady Capulet's skirt in utter sorrow after killing Tybalt.........

I really had died and gone to heaven

(Rojo_fan and I are not ashmed to say were in tears at several sections of the ballet! :flowers: )

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I saw Cojocaru and Kobborg last Wednesday. I thought she was excellent, a very young and innocent Juliet. Kobborg didn't quite seem to be on the very top of his form to me (I am being picky here), but his partnering was beautifully sensitive.

Overall though I've seen better performances of R&J in the past: I think it needs a rest from the rep to regain some freshness and zest. It should look like a matter of life and death for everyone on stage, not just the principals. Somehow this just didn't. It's difficult to put a finger on what individually wasn't quite right, but it didn't come off with the impact that it can do.

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I agree with you Lynette. I also saw Alina and Johan dance last Wednesday and didn't think it was the greatest performance either. Nothing I could put my finger on, but I think you're right it needs a rest from the rep. Even though its my favourite ballet, there wasn't the ping and sparkle that usually radiates off this ballet, and not just the principles (who I agree are excellent) but the whole cast.

Though when it returns in March/April there are some interesting partnerships to watch. Alina is dancing with Roberto Bolle rather than Johan Kobborg, and then the new partnership in Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson which I can't wait to see!

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I was surprised to like Miyako Yoshida and Inaki Urlezaga best. I was doubtful of their Swan Lake last season and thought they would be an odd pairing, but actually they turned out to be the most exuberant and complete Romeo and Juliet for me. I love Miyako's Juliet - they way in which she flutters around the ballroom is so demure and delicate, and I think her transformation into a heartbroken women, flinging herself into Romeo's arms in act III is the best one for me. They were just so believable on both sides. For the others I was impressed by bits and pieces of each cast, especially Mara Galeazzi's girlish sparkling Act I, Tamara's terrible despair in Act 3. I liked the new principal Bonelli - I thought he was very sweet and boyish and his dancing is really beautiful - will be interested to see how he develops his Romeo next year. But I've been a bit disappointed this time around. I usually love Johan and Alina together and dancewise they gel perfectly, but their R&J isn't for me. I don't know why I wasn't moved. I think I must spend too much time analysing performances as opposed to enjoying them. I felt the same as Lynette about Johan and Alina. It's me being picky too because they were relatively still excellent. People around me were weeping buckets for them! I like how so far off 'paint-by-numbers' their dancing is - how they react to events and to each other. For most of the others you can pinpoint exactly in the music when specific things happen - when they kiss, when Juliet takes the potion, etc, etc, and for some dancers it never seems to change from season to season, but Alina and Johan choose slightly different moments in the music throughout the ballet which makes it very interesting, a bit unpredictable and exciting. I think Johan makes Alina wait for her balcony kiss longer than is fair. :wink: And Alina takes so much longer to wake up in the tomb and discover Paris, and contrasting with the speed at which she races around the crypt I felt much more Juliet's fear and desperation. It was nice to see Leanne Benjamin back too - she got a flower throw at the end of her performance. I agree with the Times review of her and Samodurov - the ballet only came together for me in Act 3. I have to confess I'm R&Jed out and as much as I'm looking forward to seeing the Edward Watson-Lauren Cuthbertson cast next year I think it's a bit much to have three runs in less than a year.

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Apologies for adding to this thread some time after the performances, but I have a couple of questions I would like to ask the regular Royal Ballet goers.

Question 1: Do the mandolin dancers in Act II now always paint their faces like clowns or was it just the performance I saw (24th November)?

Also concerning the mandolin dance. Instead of dancing the original choreography, the dancers now incorporate a game of leapfrog, is this now also the norm?

Question 2: I was told the (very ugly) new sets now being used in R&J were created to fit outside stages during the ROH closure and were a temporary measure, have they now been adopted as the standard sets for R&J and if so does anyone know why?

Hoping someone can enlighten me.


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So far as I remember, the revised sets were introduced about three years ago, after the company returned to the ROH. One of the reasons for doing it was said to be that they would be easier to tour, but so far as I know it's a permanent change.

The mandolin dancers have been doing leapfrog for ages, I think - I seem to remember it from years ago, certainly in MacMillan's lifetime.

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Thanks for the prompt reply. My memories of R&J go back to 1966 and I saw the original cast several times. I remember some changes taking place with sets and costumes at an earlier date and you can see the changes when you watch the 1965 video and compare it with the 1984 one, but there were no major changes in choreography.

I am appalled by the current sets - no balcony for Juliet and she now sleeps in what appears to be a deserted church! The crypt scene is a disaster. Perhaps I could have stomached all of that if the dancing had been better, but apart from the leading pair it was dreadful. I left the theatre deeply depressed and have to agree with the earlier posters, Lynette and Rebekah, who suggested this ballet be "rested". Looking at the state it's in; it deserves to be put to rest permanently.

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