“Romeo and Juliet” told through dance

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) is bringing “Romeo and Juliet” back to Winnipeg in time for Valentine’s Day.

A perennial love story, Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” has been performed time and time again with many adapted compositions in film and theatre.

The ballet production of this timeless romance offers the audience a lush interpretation of the yearning, sorrow and passionate courtship that exists between the two star-crossed lovers.

Principal dancer Dmitri Dovgoselets plays Romeo, while Juliet is brought to life by second soloist Elizabeth Lamont.

Lamont played the role of Juliet for the first time in RWB’s 2014 production of “Romeo and Juliet.” She has been with the RWB for nine seasons.

“I think a lot of ballet can be a little intimidating to the average person, just because if you don’t know the history of ballet, I feel like a lot of people leave thinking it was really beautiful, but they don’t know what they’re supposed to be looking at or they don’t really know the story,” said Lamont.

“With ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ it’s a story that people are told in high school and it’s very well-known.”

RWB artistic director Andre Lewis performed as part of the debut performance of Romeo and Juliet in 1981. As a young dancer, Lewis was chosen for the roles of both Mercutio and Romeo by the late choreographer Rudi van Dantzig of the Dutch National Ballet.

Having worked closely with the choreographer, Lewis has been able to convey van Dantzig’s intentions behind the movements and actions sought from the performance.

The story’s familiarity, coupled with its exciting action sequences, makes “Romeo and Juliet” an appealing ballet for newer audience members.

“It’s very easy to understand the story when you’re watching. Hopefully I make some people cry,” she said jokingly.

Lamont also hopes “Romeo and Juliet” will make ballet seem more accessible to a broader audience.

“The pas de deux between Romeo and Juliet and the balconies, it sweeps you off your feet as an audience member and you remember those feelings of first falling in love just by watching the dancing,” she said.

The accompanying music helps narrate the story as well.

“The reason I dance is because of the music,” said Lamont.

Sergei Prokofiev’s stunning score, performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, helps convey the juxtaposed dramatic emotions between the Montagues and Capulets and the affair between Juliet and Romeo.

Broadway stars Craig Ramsay and Catherine Wreford play the roles of Lord and Lady Capulet. Young dancers from the RWB School have also been cast in this production.

 

“Romeo and Juliet” runs Feb. 13 to Feb. 17 at the Centennial Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rwb.org, in person through the RWB Customer Service Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792.