Sunday, July 21, 2013

Romeo et Juliette: a Geneva Ballet production

On Friday night, I went to watch a modern reinterpretation of Romeo and Juliet by the touring Geneva Ballet.  I sat in the penultimate row of the very upper tier in the leftmost corner, so I was definitely up in the nose bleed section.  But the theater isn't that big, the price was right, and, by the time I thought to purchase the ticket, there were no other options.

I actually prefer to watch dance from the upper tiers, though.  The choreography is very clear from way up there, and it provides me with a much better concept of the whole production.  Orchestra seats are actually much more forgiving to the troupe - one bad thing about the perspective from the upper tiers is that it is glaringly obvious if the dancers are misaligned.  

I'm so glad I went.  In the program, the choreographer noted that she chose to remove all period references in this reinterpretation because the conflicts and misunderstandings in Shakespeare's tale of woe existed yesterday, exist today, and will exist tomorrow.  As a result, it is a modern production consisting of some basic lighting and simple props; no scenery or fancy costumes.  Everyone danced barefoot. 

I loved the starkness of the stage, which seemed only to illuminate the clean lines of the dancers and the creative choreography.  Paired with a flute solo that seemed to shimmer and brim with newfound love and promise, Juliet's soliloquy was one of my favorites.   Another favorite was the scene of Romeo and Juliet's dance together.  The dancers' moves were so coordinated, fluid and effortless that I could only imagine the hours that they had spent practicing.  It was exquisite.

There were two scenes that I found lackluster, however.  First, the sex scene.  I loved the design and choreography in this scene, so I don't know how much I should complain, but the male lead came on stage in nothing but a nude brief, and Juliet shed her costume on stage to reveal a nude leotard.  They were technically clothed, but... not really.  I am all for appreciating the human form, especially ones that are toned to perfection from hours of dance every day, but that scene made me anxious.  I was really worried for the dancers - what if they had a costume malfunction??  I also couldn't help thinking that it was a bit gratuitous.

The death scene was a disappointment.  It dragged on for way too long, particularly the part where Romeo found his beloved "dead."  He kept picking up her limp body and placing it all over the stage.  That scene would have been a perfect place to give the male lead a dynamic solo to show off his rage and grief.  But, no, we had to deal with a lot of swooping and dragging instead.

I hesitated before purchasing tickets because I thought, "not another Romeo and Juliet ballet."  But I'm glad I decided to give this one a try.

By the way, the venue is... not very attractive.  I tried my best to take flattering pictures.

 Who thought that that many tiles in that size and color would be a good idea?  The venue is also entirely carpeted, in some light purple speckled monstrosity.

The exterior though, is a different story.  I like.  It kind of reminds me of a stingray.

My obligatory shot of the Hong Kong skyline on my way home, taken from the Star Ferry:
Too pretty to resist.  

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