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New York City Center Presents Pacific Northwest Ballet in Roméo et Juliette
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New York City Center Presents Pacific Northwest Ballet in Roméo et Juliette

- Onstage with the Dancers

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New York City Center
Presents:
Pacific Northwest Ballet
www.pnb.org

in
Roméo et Juliette
Ballet in Three Acts

Artistic Director: Peter Boal
Kent Stowell and Francis Russell, Founding Artistic Directors
Music Director/Principal Conductor: Emil de Cou
Company Pianist/Conductor: Allan Dameron
Ballet Masters: Otto Neubert, Anne Dabrowski, Paul Gibson
Technical Director: Norbert Herriges
Resident Lighting Designer: Randall G. Chiarelli
Costume Shop Manager: Larae Thiege Hascall
Company Pianist: Christina Siemens

Press: Helene Davis Public Relations

At New York City Center
www.nycitycenter.org

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 15, 2013


Roméo et Juliette (1996): Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography by Jean-Christophe Maillot, Staging by Gaby Baars, Bernice Coppieters, and Giovanna Lorenzoni, Scenic Design by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Costume Design by Jerome Kaplan, Lighting Design by Dominique Drillot, Conductor: Emil de Cou, Performed by Carla Körbes as Juliet, Seth Orza as Romeo, William Lin-Yee as Friar Laurence, Jonathan Porretta as Mercutio, Batkhurel Bold as Tybalt, Laura Gilbreath as Lady Capulet, Rachel Foster as The Nurse, Benjamin Griffiths as Benvolio, Joshua Grant as Paris, Maria Chapman as Rosaline, Andrew Bartee and Jerome Tisserand as The two acolytes, and the Company as The Montagues and The Capulets.

If a balletomane were to fall asleep after seeing a traditional version of Romeo and Juliet, then have a wine-induced, hallucinatory dream about the plight and fate of the two lovers from Verona, that dream might unfold as Christophe Maillot’s Roméo et Juliette. Tonight’s three-act ballet of a story known inside and out by all ballet-goers in New York, with two repertory versions shown periodically, by MacMillan and Martins, was an extrapolated, surreal, haunted version, interesting, gripping, but not one for semi-annual New York repertory. As a one-night experience, I found it extraordinary, like a mesmerizing, avant-garde museum media event. The sets were stark white, seemingly plasticized, shimmering, gliding walls and dividers, with a slide from a quasi-balcony, a low square bed, and so on. The varying shapes, by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, added to the avant-garde ambiance. Moreover, Jerome Kaplan’s costumes, for the leads and ensemble, were uncluttered, solid white, black, gold, silver, semi-exposed legs, semi-exposed face with dark feathers, and other rare concepts. Juliette wore a gold strapless gown at the ball, a blue strapless nightgown in the balcony scene, then a white flowing gown in the bedroom scene, with Roméo in shades of white. Lady Capulet, in a black, narrow, silky, fashionable gown, and Rosaline, in grey, each sensuously exposed one leg.

Two additional characters, here called acolytes, were a slimmed down Greek Chorus of the characters’ minds, the approach-avoidance conflict of the youthful lovers from warring families. Carla Körbes and Seth Orza, formerly known in New York from their years onstage with City Ballet, have newfound breadth and depth of characterization, astounding stage presence, charisma, chemistry, and compelling talent. Maillot’s ballet is filled with eroticism, as Juliette flings her arms on high as Roméo first caresses her. These two characters are giddy with first love; they gaze upon each other endlessly at first sight at the ball, they catapult into the bed, they lunge at each other’s lifeless bodies in the crypt, and so on. Ms. Körbes and Mr. Orza are a ballet partnership in progress and one that should be cultivated and seen often. In this version of the ballet, there’s no fencing or sword scene, but rather bullying with fists and battering with torn limbs of Pulcinella puppets (a sideshow for the townspeople behind a screen). The Montagues and Capulets create mayhem, with Tybalt (a menacing Batkhurel Bold) killed with Mercutio’s blood-soaked cloth, and Mercutio (a mischievous Jonathan Porretta) first killed with a torn puppet limb.

The acolytes are also Friar Laurence’s (William Lin-Yee) conflicted conscience, as he does not deliver the news of the sleep potion in time to Roméo, as we well know. Mr. Lin-Yee could have been a stronger figure in this production, as it’s his doing that fate yields irreversible tragedy. Yet, he was a magnetic presence, as were all lead characters. As Lady Capulet, Juliette’s one parent, Laura Gilbreath was wild-eyed and weary. Rachel Foster, Juliette’s Nurse, was less maternal than other ballet versions, and more a soul-mate. Benvolio, Benjamin Griffiths, was athletic and joined to Roméo in the flashy fights. Joshua Grant was a competitive, combative Paris, one who wanted to win, and Maria Chapman was Rosaline, with wanton abandon. Andrew Bartee and Jerome Tisserand were the two acolytes who had spotlighted roles throughout. As mentioned above, this surreal dreamlike, haunted ballet was uniquely conceived, with barefoot scenes, where characters would be barefoot, and other scenes in flat ballet and pointe. Juliette swallows a sleep potion, but no bottle falls, perhaps it’s a pill, Romeo dies from what appears to be shock or heart failure, and Juliette dies by strangling herself with a found long red scarf.

Emil de Cou led a sumptuous, searing orchestration of the renowned Prokofiev score, which was, at times, fragmented and turned inside out, as was the plot. The Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra sounded exquisite. I look forward to hearing it again. Kudos to Peter Boal, who used to dance the stage of City Ballet as well, now Artistic Director of this impressive Company, for courageously bringing to New York audiences such a remarkable and unusual rendering of a familiar ballet.



Pacific Northwest Ballet
Principal Dancers:
Carla Körbes and Seth Orza
in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Roméo et Juliette
Courtesy of Angela Sterling.



Pacific Northwest Ballet
Principal Dancers:
Carla Körbes and Seth Orza
in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Roméo et Juliette
Courtesy of Angela Sterling.



Pacific Northwest Ballet
Principal Dancers:
Carla Körbes and Seth Orza
in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Roméo et Juliette
Courtesy of Angela Sterling.



Pacific Northwest Ballet
Principal Dancers:
Carla Körbes and Seth Orza
in Jean-Christophe Maillot's
Roméo et Juliette
Courtesy of Angela Sterling.



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net