Romeo and Juliet premieres in Metro
After world premiere in Florida, Atlantic Ballet Theatre premiere latest ballet at home
TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF
Choreographer and artistic director for the Moncton-based ballet company, Igor Dobrovolskiy chose to reinvent the romantic favourite by using metaphorical props rather than the traditional balcony and coffin seen in most interpretations of Romeo and Juliet.
Igor created wire metal structures that encase all 10 dancers throughout the performance. The structures, Igor says, represent the constricting family rules amongst the Capulet and Montague clans, rules which prevented Romeo and Juliet from being together and eventually led to their demise.
“It’s a metaphor for the family rules, the stubborn way they live life, always hating each other from generation to generation,” he says. “And when Romeo and Juliet were born, they put these structures on them.”
Not only do the metal structures create visual dynamics, Igor says they also transform the way the dancers move, almost reinventing the traditional ballet style.
“You can see how the ballet technique differs with the structures. It creates different lines from a ballet perspective,” he says. “It was a big challenge for (the dancers) because, usually, they don’t have anything on their arms. It’s not a heavy structure but it’s still uncomfortable. But for professional dancers this is normal, you have to make it comfortable because it has to look smooth and clean.”
The leading roles of Romeo and Juliet are played by Kosta Voynov and Anya Nesvitaylo, respectively. Anya says the romantic role of Juliet has allowed her to release some of her own emotional turbulence, which she then brings to the stage.
“I like this role because I’m playing a girl in love and it’s always exciting for a girl, because you start to remember what you felt like when you fell in love for the first time,” Anya says. “It’s a really emotional part.
“My favourite part is when Romeo is dead and I’m realizing that he’s not with me anymore. It’s much more personal because I lost my sister last year and all this emotion I have comes out when I’m dancing.”
Anya admits the wire structures were difficult to adjust to at first, but she appreciates the creative vision behind them.
“It’s been a challenge because you have to find your way to move, because it should look natural. It just becomes part of the costume,” she says. “But I think they’re really cool. You see the results in the end.”
The company has been preparing for this latest original composition since September. Igor’s vision for Romeo and Juliet Fantasy came out of a challenge from a presenter in Florida to create a one-act performance rather than the traditional two or three acts.
The ballet company had been asked to perform a winter show in Florida using a mixed program with pieces from the annual Velvet Gala and one of their previous productions, Amadeus. The presenter asked that the latter half of the show feature a one-act 40-minute-long production, which Igor transformed into Romeo and Juliet Fantasy.
“I was nervous about opening outside our home city because we have a following here,” says Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, the Atlantic Ballet Theatre’s Founder and CEO. “We’re guaranteed a standing ovation here, but we really did not know what the reception would be in a different location. But, of course, it was a sold-out house every night, so it went over very well.”
The Florida run played to more than 10,000 people in a series of six sold-out performances, making the company’s first foreign world premiere a significant success. Despite pleasing their Florida audiences, Anya says she is most nervous about the upcoming Moncton show.
“I’m pretty nervous to perform in Moncton because it’s our town, so we have to show our best.”
Susan says she hopes Igor continues expanding the repertoire to more non-traditional pieces, such as his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.
“I’m very excited about this, I find it a particularly interesting piece of choreographic work,” she says. “(Igor)’s interpretation is absolutely fascinating. It’s not traditional, but it makes you think about what you’re viewing on the stage. That’s one of the gifts Igor brings to the stage, is he challenges the audience and people to go home talking about what they saw.”
The production begins with a performance to Bach, but the majority is set to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture and Symphony No. 4 in F minor.
Igor says he’s received mixed responses to his abstract version of Romeo and Juliet, but the overarching message is that it entertained and challenged his audience. “I can’t guarantee everybody will like it, but it’s a challenge. People say it’s different, and that they like more traditional pieces, but they always say it’s interesting,” he says. “I believe people will appreciate the work of the dancers. They all look strong technically and it’s a very dramatic performance.
“It will touch everybody emotionally”
* Romeo and Juliet Fantasy makes its Canadian premiere at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday, April 15 at 8 p.m. The troupe performs at the Fredericton Playhouse on May 6 before heading on to Halifax’s Dalhousie Arts Centre on May 20.