Romeo and Juliet
Globalisation at its best: the Russian dancers of the Tchaikovsky Perm State Ballet excel in Scottish choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s interpretation
Ruslan Savdenov and Natalia Domracheva suggest love for the ballet itself as much as for the lead characters
Romeo and Juliet
Board Gáis Energy Theatre
Irish audiences have hit the ballet jackpot with the Tchaikovsky Perm State Ballet performing Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. Evidence of globalisation at its best, the Russian dancers excel in the Scottish choreographer’s interpretation of the love story, which has been one of the definitive versions of the ballet since 1964.
At that time, Russian story ballets enjoyed near sacrosanct status, yet MacMillan created a masterpiece that eschewed pantomime and dramatics for more organic storytelling. His first three-act ballet was hailed by theatregoers as well as balletomanes as a masterpiece, and since Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev brought it to life back then with more than 40 curtain calls on opening night, dancers worldwide have clamoured to perform it.
Here, Ruslan Savdenov and Natalia Domracheva dance portrayals that suggest love for the ballet itself as much as for the lead characters. She evolves from an innocent girl to an impassioned young woman, driven by a bond with her endearingly earnest suitor through powerful turns and achingly supple arabesques. Their pas de deux matures as the story unfolds.
The couple’s entire surroundings reflect beauty and harmony. Mauro Carosi’s stunning scenery remains true to the ballet’s original Italianate influence, and Odette Nicoletti’s costumes feature stunning headdresses worthy of the most regal monarchs.
Offsetting the romance, the equally spectacular swordfighting showcases the male dancers’ prowess and musicality. Tybalt and Mercutio repeatedly lock weapons in choreography that is as remarkable in its realism as it is in the way the swords shave each other in time with the music – one of many examples of MacMillan masterfully allowing the movement to drive the narration.
Underneath everything lies Prokofiev’s wondrous score, and in this production, the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrey Danilov, play with a strong, purposeful energy. The grandiose music and dancing match each other in the ultimate symbiotic relationship, which, like Romeo and Juliet’s romance, leaves the heart feeling empty once it is over.