Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet (DVD)
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Two lovers, united by fate but kept apart by an old family feud, who can only be together in death: Shakespeare’s timeless tale, set to ballet music by Sergey Prokofiev in 1935, needs no introduction. However, this production from the Ural Opera Ballet in Ekaterinburg, which won the prestigious Golden Mask Prize as “Best Ballet” in 2017, adds interesting twists to this well-known frame, as choreographer Vyacheslav Samodurov sets his performance in a dance studio, during a rehearsal of the Romeo and Juliet ballet. This way, the characters of the play are placed out of a specific country or era: the action could take place anytime and anywhere. It could even be happening in front of your window right now: it is not by chance that the dancers reminded the audience of today’s ‘boys and girls from the Uralmash district’, as some viewers have noted in social media. The motive of struggle between the two clans disappears from the performance – it does not matter which families the street fighters belong to. The concept of repetition and inexorability of the theatrical ritual plays a central part: a tragedy is about to happen and the lovers will die today, but afterwards everyone will go home, a new rehearsal will start tomorrow, and the story will be repeated again from the start. With outstanding performances from principals Ekaterina Sapogova and Alexandr Merkushev, choreographer Vyacheslav Samodurov creates an intricate and surprisingly modern choreographical language that draws from classical movements but also from pantomime to best express the feelings and the drama at play in this eternal masterpiece.