Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal celebrated their 60th anniversary by starting the 2016-17 season with the classic and legendary tale of Roméo & Juliette. Based on the eponymous play by William Shakespeare, the three-act ballet by Jean-Christophe Maillot embraces the stage of the Théâtre Maisonneuve from October 13-28. I had the opportunity to attend the Grand Premiere last Thursday and I fell under the charm of Maillot’s choreography and Sergei Prokofiev’s score.
Rather than retracing the rift between the Capulets and the Montagues, Jean-Christophe Maillot took a new original perspective. His Roméo & Juliette plunges us into the soul of Friar Laurence, a man whose good intentions provoke the tragic ending of the two lovers. The ballet is told through the flashbacks experienced by this distraught man. Maillot choreography’s sensitivity features Shakespeare’s tale as an accidental tragedy that leads the death of two young people more concerned with the path of love than of hatred.
This three-act tale was spectacularly presented by the dancers. Their grace, technical precision and strength gave the audience a beautiful ballet that was both classical and modern. Borrowing an aesthetic from the cinematic world, the dancers delightfully executed filming techniques such as flashbacks, stills and slow motions. They were all incredibly talented, energetic and elegant; their movements and their energy seduced the entire room.
To contrast the complex drama of Shakespeare’s tale, the decor was very minimal, luminous and transparent at times. This contemporary stage with its elegant design and dramatic lighting, combined with floating and dainty costumes, put all the focus on the dancers’ performance and on Maillot’s vision.
Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Roméo & Juliette is a compelling modern drama, a game of passion that features the duality and ambiguity of adolescence. Maestro Florian Ziemen and the Grands Ballets Orchestra gave a beautiful performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s music. Roméo & Juliette is such a wonderful and legendary ballet I cannot recommend enough!
Photo credits: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal