Romeo and Juliet

Music by Sergei Prokofiev
Moscow City Ballet
Royal & Derngate, Northampton, and touring
(2009)

Production photo

A ballet of real quality is on offer at the Derngate in Northampton, where the Moscow City Ballet brings its talented company and imaginative versions of timeless classics such as Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet seems perfect for the vast Derngate Stage, with the Montagues and Capulets coming together and playing out the fierce rivalry that was as illustrious as the Shakespearian script. Romeo's Montague gang were especially strong, offering a masculine quality often missing from this Ballet.

There did seem to be a heavily Russian influence on the production - choreographer Victor Smirnov Golovanog perhaps had this in mind with the male scenes in particular, with high kicks and strong stamping reminiscent of the more traditional style of dance.

There are particular, memorable moment s in this version that make the performance a real must - especially for Ballet fans. The meeting of Romeo and Juliet was beautifully staged, with the twisting turning characters almost floating between each other.

The beauty in this Ballet was the fact that characters were allowed to shine through. Mercutio for example, became a cheeky, extravagant and playful role - this wasn't just a dancer churning out a moment of movement, but a character that was three dimensional and fun.

Perhaps it was the finales to each act that grabbed the most attention - the balcony pas de deux was stunning, an almost weightless performance that included inventive and interesting lifts that showed athleticism and a delicate dimension.

Although I wasn't amazed by the design - the costumes and backdrops seemed functional, rather than glamorous, yet this didn't detract. Although I wasn't convinced by the surreal headwear worn in the death scenes, I enjoyed the idea that although this Ballet had traditional elements, it was also bold enough to try new ideas.

However, it is the traditional that make this performance such a joy. Sergei Prokofiev's brilliant score is a perfect accompaniment to the choreography on stage and the orchestra played with enough quality to match the excellent dancers.

A highly recommended company who bring a classic to the stage with all the quality and beauty that one hopes for when visiting the Ballet.

"Romeo and Juliet" and "The Sleeping Beauty" play at Royal and Derngate until Saturday 24th January, 2009

Reviewer: John Johnson