Romeo + Juliet at New York City Ballet
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After The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the most choreographed ballet of the last 60 years. Most versions are set to Sergei Prokofiev's lush 1935 score, although some choreographers have used music by Tschaikovsky, Berlioz, and Delius. In May 2007, Romeo + Juliet, a sumptuous new production of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy choreographed by Peter Martins, entered the repertory of New York City Ballet. While Mr. Martin's work utilizes Prokofiev's score, the choreographer, following City Ballet tradition, has streamlined the action into two acts with one intermission (instead of the usual three acts). And also in NYCB tradition, his ballet focuses on speed and virtuosity and showcases young company dancers in the lead roles. Says Mr. Martins, "The production is to honor the 100th birthday of NYCB co-founder Lincoln Kirstein so we are also using teachers and student from the School of American Ballet, which Lincoln helped found, as well."
The costumes and scenery are designed by acclaimed Danish artist, Per Kirkeby, who also collaborated with Peter Martins on the choreographer's 1996 NYCB production of Swan Lake. Kirkeby's use of jewel tones and stained glass scenic effects pay homage to artist Georges Rouault and his work for George Balanchine in the 1929 Constructivist-inspired Ballets Russes production of Prodigal Son. So, too, does the movable unit set that allows scenes to change before one's eyes, the action moving seamlessly from a bustling town square to Juliet's bedroom, from a ball room to a moonlit balcony. But above all, this is a production filled with dance, drama, and movement: passionate pas de deux, group dances by turns stately and exuberant, and realistic sword fights that will take your breath away.