Romeo and Juliet Fantasy and Other Works
It’s a tragic romance you know well, but chances are, you’ve never seen it quite this way before. The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada will bring Romeo and Juliet to life in a 40-minute, one-act ballet based on William Shakespeare’s timeless romance.
Founding artistic director and choreographer Igor Dobrovolskiy says this ballet is set on Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture and it creates a dream-world for the young lovers who have just barely left behind their childhood and face the consequences of feeling too deeply in a world where there is no clemency for breaking rules.
“It’s a little different than the classical version of Romeo and Juliet. We decided to create a one-act performance based on the music of Tchaikovsky.”
Dobrovolskiy says this production is more abstract than the classical Romeo and Juliet most people are familiar with, and yet the essence of Shakespeare’s story remains.
“I tried to keep the main theme of the original play but at the same time it was a chance to create something different and something experimental.”
The creation of this production started when Dobrovolskiy listened to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture and then considered what he needed to do to bring his ideas to life on the stage with a cast of 10 dancers.
Dobrovolskiy decided to use wire structures that the dancers perform within to symbolize the rigidity of the family rules that hold these two young lovers apart. Rules they must break free from in order to be together in life and then, in death.
The ballet company’s founder, Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, says what’s most interesting about this ballet is the use of these metal structures.
“They are a metaphor for the rules the families place on both Romeo and Juliet. Of course choreographically you can see how the cages restrict movement.
“He wanted to demonstrate to the audience the family structure restricted Romeo and Juliet and that they had to free themselves from that structure in order to be together.”
These tube-like structures are worn by the dancers for part of the performance. They present physical challenges for the dancers in that they restrict how they can move; however, even with these metal structures, Chalmers-Gauvin describes the dancers as graceful and as beautiful and as light on their feet as if they didn’t have the structures to deal with.
“It’s really astonishing to see how they have mastered dancing within these and also how they are able to dance in synchronization with them.”
Anya Nesvitaylo is Juliet in this production. While this version of Romeo and Juliet is abstract, she says, she likes it very much because it is more modern. While she is on stage, she says she feels all of the emotion of this character.
“For me it wasn’t hard because I am a girl and all girls dream of something romantic in life. When I live the story on the stage, it’s like it’s happening to me and it’s real. I am living this through this performance. It is like a piece of my life. I put all of my thoughts and all of my heart into it. I really hope I will reach people’s hearts.”
The ballet had its world premiere on Feb. 18 in Boca Raton, Florida. The company performed for over 10,000 people on that sold-out tour.
The production had its Canadian premiere on April 15 at The Capitol Theatre in Moncton, where the cast received an immediate standing ovation.
Nesvitaylo, 26, started to dance in Russia when she was six. She joined this ballet company four years ago. She says she always feels great responsibility to perform to the best of her ability, but especially so when she is in front of an audience here in New Brunswick and across the country.
Dobrovolskiy is confident those who decide to see the show at The Playhouse on Thursday will also appreciate this production. The second performance of the evening is called Fleeting. It is also a 40-minute dance and is based on the music of Bach which Dobrovolskiy describes as neo-classical ballet with contemporary movements.
It has four scenes. The first couple of sections demonstrate how life is fleeting and that we see and interact with people who enter and exit our lives.
“It’s a metaphor, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s dynamic, it’s powerful and the music of J.S. Bach is beautiful,” says Dobrovolskiy.
The program will also feature selections from some of Bach’s most popular works.
Now in its 10th year, the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, based in Moncton, continues to remain true to its vision of being a small company dedicated to creating original works of a high standard that can be staged anywhere in the world.
Dobrovolskiy says it doesn’t seem as though 10 years have passed since the ballet company was formed and he is excited and inspired to continue work with exceptionally talented dancers and create new works right here in New Brunswick.
“I found my home here and my two children were born here. This is home.”