Coming from a ballroom dance background, I believe that one of the most important aspects of a dance production is connection. Watching a performer demonstrate sharp technique and dancing skill on their own is certainly important, but for me, the real beauty of a dance comes from watching how the performers build off of the strength or grace of another person. Interacting with another dancer allows them to show new movements as a partnership and develop them much further than they could independently, opening up a whole new opportunities in the world of dance to be explored. I mean this not only in a physical, technical sense, but also in emotional connection and storytelling.
Romeo and Juliet, a well-known romantic masterpiece, highlights the emotional connection between the characters in a way that is both familiar and entirely unique. While most of us know the story of the star-crossed lovers all too well, our normal experience of it is either from a script or from the mouth of an actor. We engage with traditional tellings of the story in dialogue and dialogue alone. In the ballet production of Romeo and Juliet, however, we are told the classic story not through words, but movements of the body that encapsulate the passion in a whole new way.
Dancers are given the challenge of showing complex emotions through nothing but musicality and connection, and using this to tell as detailed a narrative as Romeo and Juliet is a real feat of skill. Every pulse and every movement on stage has a specific intention. Whether it be arms projecting energy outward and filling the space to show excitement or subtly retracting oneself to express doubt, each movement is choreographed with a goal in mind, thinking, “What is the idea I want to express and how do I say it with a body?” Dancers and choreographers as talented as we will see at Northrop do this with such finesse that every detail in the original play is not only present, but emphasized and dramatized.
That said, I cannot encourage you enough to attend the ballet production of Romeo and Juliet. Regardless of whether you are a committed Shakespearean or if this production will be your first experience with the story, give it a shot and watch not only what the performers are saying, but how they are saying it. Pay close attention to the story behind the movement, and appreciate how much emotional detail can be given in just the swing of a leg.