Romeo et Juliette
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Choreographer: Jean-Christophe Maillot
*This original review was written in 2009*
I know I usually write about movies - but this is also visual entertainment, so I classify the same, well actually BETTER and more satisfying.
After seeing commercials on TV and reading a few reviews, I had decided I had to see this show.
Peter Boal has took over as Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, almost 5 years ago - and since then, has taken a new and brilliant turn with the choice of productions and shows each year.
When I got the tickets, I was preparing myself for the classic, old fashioned Shakespeare set and vision - too many frills, too much everything - but that is the beauty of the classics. This however was MUCH different than expected.
Different, beautifully poetic, modern, minimalistic and simply breathtaking. First of all the sets - large shapes - all straight angels and clean lines. Linens draped on the sets and used for costumes - they were just perfect. It was just appealing enough to the eyes to remember, but subtle enough for you to really focus on the artistry.
First off the Choreography -- Maillot's vision was clear - beautiful lines, smooth transitions but also strong and gut wrenching moments that are severe and gorgeous. Every muscle movement was so intentional and used every ounce of energy the dancer had.
The dancers. Peter Boal has a company of 48 amazing artists. The people chosen for this show were phenomenal, each in their own right. First of all - the two main parts.
Juliette was played by Brazilian born Carla Korbes. This was her first time in the role of Juliette and I must say she literally became the character. She gave so much of herself and really dedicated herself to the story. I felt her pain, I cried her tears and I felt her joyful and undeniable love. She showed the wonderful coy, playful and naughty side of Juliette - and really had fun with it.Her ability and artistry were superb. She was strong, yet soft - fluid yet severe when needed. The art of dance is so special when it is done right, and its radiated rather than performed. Carla truly radiated the amazing attributes that Shakespeare himself envisioned his Juliette to be.
On to Romeo. Romeo was played by veteran
Lucien Postlewaite - was Romeo in the last PNB production of this piece 2 years ago. We were lucky enough to be part of a Q & A session with both dancers after the show - and Lucien was asked the difference between this time and last time for him. He said the first time he was very busy worrying about making Romeo "his own". He said this year he really got a chance to give himself to the story and choreography and be who he was needed to be.
It was very clear on stage. My 13 year old (who is a dancer at the PNB school) while watching the "love" scene when they first kiss and really "devour" each other. She said "Wow mom, they really seem like they LOVE each other. Its so believable you almost feel like you are watching something that is just meant for the two of them...". I agreed with her observation. It was never Uncomfortable. Rather it was so intimate and tender - small gentle touches, radiated such love and unconditional bliss. It literally made me miss my husband and want to go home and feel the same way!
Lucien is a gentle but ripped power house that brought such chivalry and strength to this role. I have often seen the role in the past as one of an impulsive and boyish lover who made bad choices. On the contrary - Lucien gave reason and meaning in every movement and made you quiver every time he touched Juliette's skin. The additional opportunity to play this part I think was beneficial in the depth of the character. He truly danced with his heart and let every person in the audience see and feel what true love should look like.
Other amazing dancers that I must make note of. (*Please note that there were two casts for several parts, so I can only speak on the cast I saw - but I am sure the other dancers were just as amazing!)
Carrie Imler - played Juliette's Nurse. I adored her portrayal. Playful yet so loving and sisterly to Juliette. Her playfulness with Romeo and the men was also hilarious. She is incredible animated and played the part with a joyful beauty that was evident throughout the theater. I could tell by her lines that she is an amazing dancer and I wish I could have seen more of her in this production.
Arianna Lallone - Lady Capulet. She was stunning, brutal, cold but passionate at the same time. SO regal and SO intense. The scene where both friends die - she has this amazing modern mourning solo that is just riveting. Gut wrenching and raw, she showed us the epitome of pain and heartache. It was impossible to stay dry eyed through the solo. At one point my daughter whispered to me "She reminds me of old videos of Martha Graham the way she is dressed and her dancing style". I again, concurred - it was severe and gorgeous.
Karel Cruz - Friar Laurence. Karel as the thread throughout the story, and as the guide to all the other characters - was amazing. As one of the tallest (if not the tallest) dancers in the company - the mostly modern choreography for his character was paired with severe and dark costumes that really showed his lines. He portrayed an amazing internal struggle and showed so much power in his movements. Again reminding us of old Graham dancers - his lines of sorrow and anger were especially amazing.
There isn't much more to be said about this show that hasn't already been said. I am sad to say, this show is no longer showing at McCaw Hall. HOWEVER - "Directors Choice" did just open - featuring 4 beautiful vignettes showcasing a wonderful variety of tastes, talents and artistry within the company. I saw it tonight and will be writing a review for it VERY soon - so people will go and see it! I leave you with photos from the performance and rehearsals from this breathtaking show and ask you to keep your eye out for when Peter Boal decides to bless the NW with a rerun of this spectacular production.