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Subject: "Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000" Archived thread - Read only
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Bruce Madmin

06-10-00, 10:48 PM (GMT)
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"Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000"
Company: Ballet Preljocaj
What: Romeo and Juliet

Where: Sadler's Wells
When: 3 October 2000

This started as a 10 minute piece, but has become fuller and taken a bit longer - but do forgive the spontaneity of such quick thoughts!

One of Europe's most fancied choreographers makes it to London for the first time in living memory blah blah. Preljocaj is the man that Ross Stretton (new Royal Ballet (RB) Artistic Director) kept mentioning in his list of new choreographers that were not doing anything with RB and should be blah blah.

R&J is set in a bleak totalitarian Eastern European country where the factions at war are the forces of 'law and order' and the less well to do in the country. The story is condensed down to 100 minutes, but most of it is there and recognisable, if amended somewhat.

Much of Prokofiev's music remains, augmented by bleak electronic soundscapes - they work well together and with the design

Much of the action takes place by a bleak Berlin wall with guards (and a dog!) up top patrolling. Parts are of our time but there is also a 1920's Fritz Lang 'Metropolis' feel and the costumes for the military are brutal leather affairs. Juliet dances in a crop top and the most unflattering pair of shorts I've ever seen! Jasper Conran would have a heart attack I'm sure.

Overall the design work, if some of the scene changes are a bit clunky.

Interesting and one can see why directors want his work. He follows in the Ek and Kylian mould with a choreography borne of reality and awkward (if real life) gesture - not too abstract and occasionally the arms become incredibly balletic. All in bare foot with the floor much used. The pas de deux I thought were particularly impressive with a fluency and freedom I associate with MacMillan and they were in a different and more engaging style to the rest of the dance, as if to emphasis their private world and love. I also enjoyed the choreography for the nurses (yes there were two) who are rather less sympathetic types and much more formal with mechanistic movement and the slap of authority about them.

I would definitely want to see more work by Preljocaj. And some later work too - this was originally created in 1990.

Not a large company but they all looked well able to take care of themselves and at no time did there appear to be too few of them for such a big story. They also looked comfortable with dramatic work and acted well. Sylvain Groud and Aurelie Lobin were excellent as Romeo and Juliet and clearly knew there pdd well - the programme talks of their being different versions and one supposes that each couple help shape 'their' show. In this case it all worked harmoniously and their togetherness moved me greatly.

The only thing I hated, and not down to the dancers I suspect, was the ending: normally the music ends as Juliet gasps her last. Well in this version the music ends and only then does Juliet decide to kill herself - it's all done in silence. She dies but it is still not the end and a guard does a a last nonchalant look down on the dead huddle below. While I'm sure there's a point to be made about the state not giving much of a damn about life and death, the entire end of the ballet suffers horribly without music and they really ought to tidy up the dramatics.

A new R&J very much worth seeing. No pointe shoes, which might not impress some, but this is quality stuff I think. Sadler's need to get the company back. Based on this I also think Preljocaj would do a fine piece for the Royal Ballet capitalising on their dramatic sense (and natural dance ability blah blah!).

At Sadler's Wells and playing through to Sat 7th October.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000 alison 10-10-00 1
     RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000 Jane S 10-10-00 2

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10-10-00, 01:35 PM (GMT)
Click to EMail alison Click to send private message to alison Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000"
In response to message #0
   Well, not actually first visit in living memory - they were at Sadler's Wells 5 years ago or so with his version of Les Noces, which overall impressed me rather more than this did.

I thought it was rather "curate's egg"-ish when I watched the video earlier this year, and that was only reinforced when I saw the live performance, although I found it rather more powerful in real life. My main problem, I think, was the choreographer's response to the music, which I found plain perverse in a number of places. In fact, at times I wondered whether the music was actually playing when he choreographed bits of it. Other bits of it, though, I thought were great, with the pas de deux being most effective.

A couple of points that possibly someone else can fill me in on: I didn't manage to get hold of a programme (I was going to do so during the non-existent interval), so am not at all sure what it was that caused the lovers to go through the subterfuge of faking Juliet's death and later to commit suicide. Certainly there was no threatened bigamous marriage to avoid. Secondly, was it the same dancers dancing R&J each night, or did they get time off to recover from their bruises? The girl I saw on the second night had long wavy hair, whereas the girl shown in the snippet on BBC2 on Sunday night had short hair. Was she wearing a wig, or were there several different casts?

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Jane S

10-10-00, 06:50 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Review: Ballet Preljocaj 'Romeo and Juliet', 3 Oct 2000"
In response to message #1
   No, Alison, there's nothing in the programme to explain the action.

The same dancer (Aurelie Lobin) did Juliet the first 2 nights, and then Julie Bour was scheduled to do the rest.

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