Until last week I was a ballet novice, but when the opportunity presented itself to watch my favorite love story played out by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, there was no turning it down. Romeo and Juliet, on stage, in ballet form -- it sounded perfect even before we got there. The only hesitation I had; how will I know if it's any good? I've never watched a ballet before, and I recently watched a horrible film version of Romeo and Juliet that had me convinced that the best way to enjoy Shakespeare's work, was in the written form. All I can say is; I was completely wrong. You don't need ballet know how or years of theatre experience to know this was a good rendition, in fact, it was the perfect ballet to turn a first time viewer into a repeat audience member.
I had the opportunity to talk to the principal dancer, Amanda Green, a few days before the performance and she also said that Romeo and Juliet is a great ballet to watch for your first performance. Almost everyone knows the story (and if you don't it's easy to follow) -- the costumes and set are beautiful, and the music is enchanting. Personally, I can't speak to the choreography being better than other versions, but I can say this 0- it was perfect for the lead pair of Amanda Green and Lian Xing. They danced it like it was really their story.
If you've never seen a ballet before and don't have a dance background you might think watching Romeo, Mercutio, and Tybalt battle in the town square would be a little 'Men in Tights', but even with their toes pointed and graceful dance moves, there is no denying the masculine moments and intense rage in those sequences. It's no different than the perfection of the melodrama of Juliet in the bedroom the morning after her nuptial night, or the pain of Romeo lifting Juliet's lifeless body in the tomb of the Capulets. I was captivated by every scene, there was no "boring moments" like I anticipated in a ballet that was 2 hours and 4 minutes.
I have to say, Amanda Green (Juliet) was perfect -- she looked the part, and danced with ease. No surprise since she's been dancing all her life, and first joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school at 10 years old. The surprise for me; how much I love Lian Xing as Romeo. He is a guest artist from the National Ballet of China, and somehow I just couldn't picture him as Romeo before the ballet started; boy was I wrong! He truly was the romantic I envision Romeo as. My favourite scene of the entire ballet was The Ball at the House of Capulet. As Juliet and Paris are dancing away, even though I was in the audience, and Romeo was in the corner wearing a mask, I could see his gaze following Juliet the whole time. I couldn't take my eyes off Romeo because he couldn't take his eyes off Juliet. It was beautiful.