On Friday, May 11, I had the opportunity to attend opening night of the ballet. The Shakespearean tragedy has always been my favorite of the Bards and seeing Artistic Director Stephen Mills’ interpretation was inspiring.
Before the ballet began, Kaitlyn Moise, Ballet Austin’s Community Education Associate, held a brief lecture and question and answer session. During this “Footlights” session, Moise gave a refresher course on the play. Moise dated the play back to an Italian folktale called “Giulietta e Romeo.” As Moise spoke, the backstage crew was hard at work getting last minute preparations ready for the ballet. Tommy Bourgeois’ and Tony Tucci’s scenic design was simple, yet intricate.
Once the play began, there was constant action. The costumes, the music and the passion in the star-crossed lovers’ movements made the story that much more real.
The Austin Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Peter Bay, helped tell the story of the feuding families. One of my favorite parts of Sergei Prokofiev’s score was that each character had their own theme music, fitting to their character.
It was interesting to see the play told through this non-verbal art form. With “sword-fighting, energetic dancing, and gorgeous ball scenes,” there was an excellent balance of comedy and tragedy.
The heaviness of the tragedy did have its comical moments. Romeo’s best friend and cousin, Mercutio and Benvolio, respectively, gave the audience some needed laughs. With their wild antics and pranks, the duo helped balance out of this heaviness.
While Romeo and Juliet rounds out Ballet Austin’s 2011-2012 season, the upcoming 2012-2013 season is filled with exciting pieces for everyone.