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NBoC's Romeo and Juliet

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I attend the performance last saturday, Feb.16 in the evening. Though I am writing about my impressions 4 days later, it was a very memorable performance and is still very fresh in my mind!


Choreography: John Cranko

Staged by: Reid Anderson

Music: Sergei Prokofiev

Sets/Costumes: Susan Benson

I was glad to have a chance to see this ballet in it's entirety for the first time. I think it is a marvellous piece for the company and it certainly has a lot of history! In 1973, all the sets and costumes were burnt in a fire and R&J left the repetoire for a while. R&J is most deffinately the highlight of the 50th anniversary season, and I doubt any audience member was dissapointed (it was a full house too). Stylistically, I find it suits the NBoC dancers perfectly. I've come to really enjoy Cranko's choreography. At first, it was strange to see the famous balcony pdd with different steps from the MacMillan version that I was familiar with. His balcony pdd is still my favorite (I've also seen the Bolshoi version), the lifts are just gorgeous and go so well with the music. But Cranko's interpretation certainly has it's moments too!

The costumes were lovely. Very lavish, plush, and elegant. I loved all of Juliet's costumes, especially her nightgown from Act 3. The bridesmaids costumes were white with many sheer layers and very beautiful.

And of course, another thing that made this ballet-going experience so enjoyable was the music. I've been listening to Prokofiev's score before and after the performance. It's even better listening to it now because I can picture the steps in my mind. The score never fails to stir emotions in me!

Richard Landry danced Mercutio and this is the first performance where I was truly impressed by his dancing. I admit, I never thought very highly of his technique or partnering skills- but he has improved drastically since I last saw him. His pirouettes a la seconde were excellent and fast- better than Romeo's (Geon van der Wyst, his knee was not straight). He played the role with great comic wit, though there is still something about his facial expression when dancing that distracts me. This is hard to describe, but it seems his mouth is always open! I suppose it was especially noticable as I was sitting in the 5th row ( great seats, I could really appreciate the dancers fine attention to detail and their acting skills).

Geon van der Wyst is a handsome Romeo, and his white costume and blond hair were a perfect contrast to Rex Harrington's (Tybalt) black costume and brown hair. Geon looks and plays the role of a "golden boy"- nice, well-liked, but a bit naive. He danced well, with plenty of heartfelt emotion especially in the pdd segments. For the trio dance with Mercutio and Benvolio however, I saw him single the last few double tours. He did double tours fine else where but I think it was hard for him to turn as fast as the other 2 dancers, maybe because of his height? Somehow his lack of polish in certain parts did not bother me as much as it usually does, maybe because he compensated with emotion. This to me, is a "real" ballet about real people and I suppose if Romeo was so much in love with Juliet he might not be concentrating on his entrechats! But imagine a performance with both technique and acting! I heard Aleksandar's opening night Romeo was "to die for".

Rex Harrington was also cast as Romeo but was injured in the middle of his first performance. I hope he is recovering well, and he was excellent as Tybalt with not too much dancing (mostly sword fights). He is getting exceptionally good at playing the bad guy and it's lots of fun to watch. He is such an unforgettable presence! Such temperment. I saw the performance with a younger cousin who could only articulate, "he looks so meeean!"

The Gypsy girls- Tanya Howard, Stephanie Hutchison, and Tanya Evidente, were the ones having the most fun, hands-down. In the folk dance in Act 2 they danced with character and attitude. Stephanie Hutchison especially stood out. Tanya Evidente dealt very well when one of the corps men dropped her.

Juliet was danced by Greta Hodgkinson and she was sublime. The audience could really see Juliet's character gradually growing and maturing from start to finish. She was sweet and innocent, playing with the Nurse in Act 1- but a completely different woman at the end of Act 3. Her pain and struggle near the end were moving but never overdone. You could feel her anguish and the full impact of the tragic story. On top of everything, her dancing was flawless. It's a treat to watch her perform knowing that every step is right on. Every arabesque was fully extended, beautiful grand pirouettes and delicate pointework.

Benvolio was danced by Maxim Vaitsiul, whom I call the "mystery dancer" because he is wonderful and I saw him in the Merry Widdow in the fall. But he does not appear in the souvenir program, so I don't know where he is from and when he officially joined NBoC! He's one to watch though, with clean technique and a youthful vitality to all his roles. He reminds me of Angel Corella in how he is always smiling, but not a glued-on smile. You can tell that he relishes every moment on stage.

Ryan Boorne danced Paris. There isn't much to say about him, it's not a major dancing role and most of the time he keeps a very serious face.

Lady Capulet was Gizella Witkowsky, an old principal who retired a while ago. Her Lady Capulet was elegant while being haughty and cold.

The corps were excellent, and well-rehearsed. Except for the occasional break in unison, they looked great. There were some comic numbers and some other, very beautiful ones. The dance of the bridesmaids, for example. Rebekah Rimsay was a bridesmaid too. I was surprised, since she is a first soloist. Maybe the corps needed someone to follow? They all looked so pretty holding the white lillies.

Finally, I think Greta and Geon had a lot of chemistry. Even after final bows, they perpetuated the audiences idea that they are really in love when Geon pulled Greta in for a kiss (in reality though, Greta is supposedly dating first soloist William Marrie). They danced very well together. Both the balcony and bedroom pdd were breathtaking. All those lifts came across completely effortlessly, and they looked very much in love.

As you can tell, I absolutely loved the ballet and it really stayed with me when I left the theatre ( which is what a good ballet should do!).

I'm looking forward to seeing the triple bill: Paquita, Monotones I and II, and Nureyev's Sleeping Beauty act 3 this friday!

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I also went to Romeo and Juliet. It was so good. The company went on tour across the country, and where I live was included in the tour. It was the professional debut in a principle role for the people who danced Romeo and Juliet, but I wouldn't have known if I hadn't been told. The choreography was good and the Juliet was SOOOOO good. Her extentions were just gorgious.


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You must be talking about Heather Ogden and Guillaume Cote who made their debut this year. I didn't see them in R&J, but I saw some bits from the ballet on CBC's special on Opening Night a while ago called "50 years at the National Ballet: A Dancer's Story". Did you catch it? It showed them rehearsing it in the studio. There was also an excerpt from the snow scene in the Nutcracker, with Heather Ogden. They dance beautifully together and seem to be on the rise! They are representing the company in the Erik Bruhn Competition this May. I hope they continue to grow as dancers, the company needs a strong partnership right now!

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I was lucky enough to catch it. I was on holiday flicking the channels, and I saw some dancing, so I watched it, and it was that special that you are talking about. It was really good. I really enjoyed it. I wish they'd air things like that more often. Did you catch Veronica Tennant's video dance 'TRIO'?


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Yes, I saw Veronica Tennant's short film. It was interesting, though I'm not sure if I really liked it. Still, I think it's wonderful that she is exploring film- and she has done some great programs for CBC (Karen Kain: Dancing in the Moment). CBC's opening night has run a few dance related programs, I can't remember the website right now, but they do have one that shows their past and future programs. My favourites so far have been the Four Seasons and Royal Ballet's Firebird.

Btw, are you going to any of the National's performances in the spring season?

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I can't see the rest of nboc's performances because they arent on tour. I live in Alberta.

I was out today with my parents in a coupkle of used bookstores. My dad found a book on nboc, called power to rise, and it was 6 bucks, and in almost perfect condition too! Canadian currency. If it was new, it would have been 70-80 dollars! Then we were at another used bookstore. They had the same book, but it was 50 bucks, and in even worse condition! I am so happy that I found that book, and for 6 bucks too! I bought it, and i'm glad!


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tee hee, i have that book too! i bought it perfectly new at my university bookstore for $1 (CAD) since it was the last copy. it has really beautiful (black and white) photographs of the company in performance and rehearsal, and historical photographs too. (some of the adult classes that i take are taught by former principal and corps dancers, so it was fun looking them up). an interesting read, but very long.

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I bought that book recently too! At the U of T bookshop, for $10. I guess all the bookshops decided they needed to make room for new books or something!

If you're ever in Toronto, check out BMV (books, music, video) for used ballet books. There are 2 locations, 1 is on Edward St. and Yonge, and the better, bigger location is on Yonge and Eglington. I've found books on Karen Kain, Evelyn Hart, ABT, and "Stravinsky in the Theatre". I've also been meaning to check out the bookshop "Friends of Terphiscore"...

tigger, do you take classes at Dance Teq?

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I forgot to mention that I found the NYCB workout video at BMV bookshop for $4 last week:)

Most of my ballet books come from used bookshops, I bought Suzanne Farrell and Gelsey Kirkland's autobiographies from one in Oakville. Both are excellent reads. I also read Kirkland's 2nd book "the Shape of Love". I have "Classical Ballet Technique" by Gretchen Ward Warren. As a ballet student, it is my most useful book. I had to get it at Indigo though, for around $60. I bought "Tributes" too. "ABT: a 25 year retrospect" has some of the most beautiful pictures. That was an expensive book, but I love looking at it. I have an old book called "Ballet for All" that has the history and synopsis of many ballets. I have a few other books, but I mostly borrow from the library ("The Pointe Book", "Private View (ABT)", "People who Dance", Frank Augustyn's autobio, many books on Nureyev, Fonteyn etc. etc. plus lots of good videos!).

And as for magazines, if you can find it, "Dance International" (www.danceinternational.org) is based in BC and published quarterly. They have some good articles with a Canadian slant.

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