Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Martins's Romeo and Juliet

I chose to explore Peter Martin's interpretation of Romeo and Juliet as a ballet set on one of the United States' most prominent companies, the New York City Ballet. While the adaptation mostly adheres to the original concepts, settings, and characters set forth by Shakespeare, it diverges from classical interpretations of the story essentially because it is a ballet, requiring everything to be communicated without words. For instance, since it would be challenging to clarify character identities otherwise, the Montagues are always dressed in green, blue, or purple, while the Capulets are costumed in red, orange, or yellow. Additionally, if you were to attend the ballet in person, the program you received would include a brief synopsis of the story line for each act, in order to aid the audience's understanding. Many intricacies of the original play cannot be communicated this way, but it develops its own through the unique language of movement.

In developing the ballet, Peter Martins worked with Sterling Hyltin as Juliet and Robert Fairchild as Romeo, both of whom were rising stars among NYCB and still teenagers at the time. This is unusual among the professional dance world, as more often a slightly more experienced pair would've likely been selected as the muses for the creation of a brand new ballet, however Martins intentionally selected younger, less polished dancers for the purpose of truly allowing them to become Romeo and Juliet. I found Martins's emphasis on their authenticity to be critical to the success of the ballet, especially demonstrated in the scene of Romeo and Juliet's late night encounter and their deaths. The movement is passionate, intense, and communicates so many things beyond the scope of words.

The link to the full-length ballet can be found here:

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