Romeo and Juliet, the 1960s ballet by Kenneth MacMillan has remained a consistently popular performance since it started. A new run of the ballet is taking place at Covent Garden and this latest production, which stars Thiago Soares and Marianela Nunez, is one of the best productions of the ballet yet.
When a new production of an old ballet is done it is one of the greatest challenges for the company to make it feel fresh and exciting, and this is exactly what this new ballet achieves. You feel as if the performance is being put on for the first time and this is a very exciting feeling for anyone who’s seen this ballet before.
Soares is an incredibly talented dancer who has been with the Royal Ballet for many years. Nunez is also an exceptional dancer and is probably the best stylist of the pair. Soares is somewhat out danced by another performer in the production, Richard Cervera who performs as Mercutio.
The problem with this is that the character of Mercutio should be more about scars and tobacco and not about clean cut dancing, so it all seems a little bit out of character. The harlots are led by Itziar Mendizabal and they give a different performance to what you might expect if you’ve seen the ballet before.
Romeo carries himself as a man who knows his standing in life and he has a remarkable hunter quality that is very present in the dancing from Soares. His dancing is excellent but you can see that he is more talented with his upper body than he is with his legs, but the remarkable work he does with his arms makes up for any lack of performance elsewhere.
Tybalt is played by Thomas Whitehead and his performance is arguably one of the best in the production and possibly he is the best Tybalt that has been played in the history of this ballet. The story of Romeo and Juliet is as strong as ever and in this production it is highlighted how the two families are essentially nothing more than gangsters.
Their lives and society revolve around status deals and macho posturing and really nothing more. The initial gleeful skirmish really shows how the families will be portrayed throughout the ballet and it has an incredible visual style. When you mix this style with the fatalist music, the blend is stunning and you can see how this ballet is a work of pure genius.
The way the tempo changes from scene to scene is excellent and the dancers are very adept at adjusting their dancing styles. In the scene where Juliet shows she has a preference for Romeo over her intended husband, Paris, the pace of the action changes dramatically and it is a remarkable moment to watch.
The ending of Romeo and Juliet is well known but the emotions throughout this ballet are powerful and the story has been re-energised into a new production that you won’t forget easily and you will be drawn into like never before.