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Ballet Theater of Maryland

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I am writing about Ballet Theater of Maryland's (BTM) performance of Romeo and Juliet this past Saturday for two reasons: 1- just in case any of the company members frequent this website, they can read how wonderful their performance was ; 2 - Ballet lovers in Maryland and the surrounding area know that there is a wonderful local company out there that dances and acts their hearts out, and that there is worthy alternative to schlepping in to DC to the Kennedy Center (a wonderful venue and quite worth the schlep ) if they want to see some good ballet theater a bit closer to home.

BTM is a true local company whose dancers are mostly from the surrounding area (MD, PA, VA and DE). They do not rely on guest artists but rather on their own talent, and boy can they act!

Most of the company members, including apprentices and trainees, participated in this production, which was choreographed (really) by the company's Artistic Director, Dianna Cuatto, who has a respectable resume. The music was Prokofiev, of course, and was recorded, but the quality of the recording was excellent and the volume was just perfect.

Romeo and Juliet were danced/portrayed by Joshua Burnham ( ballet master) and Nichole Seitz (ballet school administrator). In three words- they were wonderful. In three more- they were moving. I did not expect to be moved to tears by this local production and when I saw the tissues being sold I giggled a bit. But you know what, had I bought them, I certainly would have used them. Note to self.

I was not alone in my display of emotion, which was evident to me when the house lights were turned back on following the curtain call, during which a standing ovation was rightfully provided by the appreciative audience. I heard multiple comments during pauses for applause on how wonderful every body was. I will go as far as to say that I believe that many in the audience were a bit blown away. At least I know that those in my general vicinity were. I was sitting front row center and could see every breath the dancers took, and every expression on their face and in their bodies. This was the real deal my friends.

Other primary characters whose portrayal must not go unnoticed were, Lady Capulet, who was perfectly and movingly portrayed by Kathryn Carlson (She is worthy to play this role for any company any where, and I’ve seen lots of them) ; Mercutio, who was strongly and amusingly portrayed by Brain Walker, and Benvolio, who was perfectly portrayed by Stirling Matheson. Dancer Caldar Taylor danced/portrayed Tybalt in a way I have not seen before. He was loveable in a sense. He was initially blank until he interacted with his cousin Juliet. This is when his intricate and interesting face lit up. It was a good effect.

There were other wonderful characters, but the ones I’ve just mentioned are the most recognizable to readers since this production had a few additional characters that don’t appear in any other production of this ballet, or this story.

About those interesting characters; “Fate” is carried out by a gypsy and two tarot cards, (“The Lovers” and “Death”). I was not sure if this would work but for me at first but as the production played out, it certainly did. The influence of those characters on the fates of Romeo and Juliet were tangible to me. Kudos Ms. Cuatto for what she herself describes as her personal contribution to the telling of this story.

In conclusion, every member of this production who was visible on stage, gave their all and it showed. This is the second time I have seen this company perform and I can say with confidence, that I will go back to see them again. They are my new home town (I'm from NY) favorite.

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Theo, glad you enjoyed the performance. Yes you should have bought the tissues :) - I suggested the sale of tissues at the door (and got laughed at) when so many folks needed them in rehearsals. Emotions ran high on both sides of the curtain and more than a few tissues were used backstage. Even after the numerous rehearsals, two performances in Pocomoke and three in Annapolis, the last performance was not jaded or slighted in quality.

If you want to be moved again look for BTM at the Baltimore Museum of Art on March 12. BTM will present a mixed evening, aptly titled "On The Move" as they are both moving people and moving aroung the state. You won't be dissapointed.

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I was looking at that March 12 performance. I'm also considering catching you folks in April for Star Spangled Sketches. Not sure which one I'll attend but it's pretty much a guarantee that I'll be back, front row center as is my habit whenever possible.

Regarding Romeo and Juliet, it was obvious that emotions were running high for the dancers. When Joshua Burnham and Nichole Seitz took their bow they were obviously emotionally drained. The next time I see tissues being sold I will know that you had a very good reason for selling them. Luckily, I always bring my own.

You are a true theater company and I thought the dancers coming in to the aisles and walking pretty much right in front of me was a great touch. I haven't been that close to point shoes in years!

Thank you for all you do.

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Did you (or anyone else on this forum) make it to the performance last weekend at the BMA? I'd be interested to hear any thoughts anyone had on it. I was planning to go, since I was particularly interested to see them in some contemporary rep, but in the end I didn't feel well and didn't feel up to making the trek up there.

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