February 6, 2015 was opening night for the wonderful Roméo et Juliette by the Atlanta Ballet. For those who missed their kickoff to the season with Nutcracker fear not, for this beautiful romance as told by Jean-Christophe Maillot did not disappoint.
It was a beautiful evening that played host to this extremely classy affair. The Cobb Energy Centre was the perfect venue to hold such a production. You could see everyone in attendance enjoying themselves with friends and family, conversing with Atlanta Ballet representatives, and what’s a big event without a barrage of selfies?
What you’ll notice about this performance, is that the focus is centralized on the youth involved, as opposed to the political/social clashing between the 2 families. The 2 families aforementioned are the Montagues and Capulets. The 2 very rich families who resided in Verona did not coexist peacefully; they actually despised each other. So it was not easy for Roméo, a Montague, to pursue his love Juliette, a Capulet, after a chance meeting which resulted in love at first sight.
Juliette’s parents had promised her to a man named Paris, but her heart was with Roméo. Their deep love for one another creates a chaotic sequence of events that take place leading to Roméo killing himself upon learning of Juliette’s death. But as the story is told, Juliette was in a deep sleep when she was discovered and when she sees her beloved dead, she also takes her own life.
The chemistry between Roméo (Christian Clark) and Juliette (Alessa Rogers) was amazing. To see this classic story told in dance was a sight to be seen. The talent and strength that’s needed to perform and execute in such a way needs to be seen firsthand. Another interesting component was the addition of 2 characters who weren’t in the original story.
The presence of 2 acolytes were performed by Alexandre Barros and Miguel Angel Montoya. These characters who are not in Shakespeare’s play, symbolize two states of a single being, that hybrid self we carry within, and who in wanting to act is nonetheless acted upon.
The Stage Design was visually stunning and the music by the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra was great. The lighting played off the white walls and elevated platform nicely, to invoke different moods throughout the performance. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra complimented the emotions felt with powerful music. A well-known tune from Roméo & Juliette that’s been heard in many adaptations ranging from France, to London, to Bugs Bunny, is that of “Dance of the Knights.” A thunderous boom can be heard from the orchestra pit to alert you that the ball (their chance meeting) is about to take place. It’s a beautiful melody that’s synonymous with this Shakespearean masterpiece ( Dance of the Knights )
Attending one of these performances is truly an experience, unlike any other. Just as we noted back in December with Nutcracker, in Roméo et Juliette there was another component we had never seen before. The Atlanta Ballet cast one-upped any performance we’ve ever seen by acting out the Montague/Capulet battle in slow motion. In an act reminiscent of The Matrix, a stage full of professional dancers were leaping, throwing punches, giving chase, dodging attacks, and rolling in super-slow motion. These kind of moves take great strength and precision, which could be seen especially in the men (you could see quad/calf muscles bulging through their tights).
This epic ballet as performed by Atlanta Ballet and told by Jean-Christophe Maillot gets a perfect 10 out of 10. Great music, great performance, the Atlanta Ballet staff was very engaging and encouraged social media, and we can’t say enough about the venue. You can become witness to this great tradition until Valentine’s Day this weekend. You can find tickets HERE