Thursday, November 15, 2007

Juliet, Juliet...

So here are some rehearsal photos of my Romeo and Juliet pas de deux. As you can see Pali is not in costume.

In Shakeseare's play, the focus is a bit more on Romeo than Juliet. Different choreographers choose to focus more on one character than the other. In my own mind, due to the fact that I am not that interested in staging sword fighting scenes, I will probably lean more towards Juliet.

So does this mean that I will be staging a full length version of the ballet next year?


As I had mentioned before, this pas de deux was created because of an opening in programing, due to Culture Shock not being able to perform at our evening show. But I am a big believer in serendipity. I knew that there was a desire from Robin to have a Romeo and Juliet back in the repetoire. I also knew that one of our lead dancers, Chelsy, wanted to do the part. So I figured, "Okay. the stars are aligned."

That being decided, I now had to look at the male dancers in the company and figure out who the appropriate Romeo would be. Romeo and Juliet need to fall in love "at first sight." They also need to look close to each other in age. Whenever we do shows for middle and high school students, the girls always go crazy for Pali, our Hungarian dancer. Who am I to argue with real 14 and 15 year old girls, as to what a 14 or 15 year old girl finds attractive in a guy.

That done, I needed to decide which music I was going to use. There was of course, the Prokofiev score, the Delius score, a Berlioz R & J, and well loved Tchaikovsky concerto on the subject (which was used by Frederick Ashton). The Tchaikovsky (though it probably was more on my own personal taste level) is just too episodic for me. It just doesn't tell a story. Berlioz and Delius are not composers that particularly resonate with me. And I have always found the Prokofiev score to be too expansive for a love story between teenagers. In the end, I did decide to try to set a pas de deux to the Prokofiev and see if I could set something to it that spoke of "first love teenage-style."

Rehearsals went fairly easily. Back in September (while in my down time at Most Wanted rehearsals) I had put together a couple of movement phrases. I knew that the pas de deux would start with a brief solo for Juliet, followed by Romeo's entrance and that the couple would dance together in a state of rapture. One problem with this is that there is usually a section in the music (after Romeo's entrance) where the music swells and Romeo has a big solo. I have never liked this bombast. "I love you and now instead of dancing with you I am going to do a big variation while you stand there and love me." Again serendipty struck. As I was searching around, I found a shorter version of the music (that had that big music cut).


Now, I could just do what I wanted to do. Choreograph a simple love pas de deux for a young couple.

As I mentioned in the previous post, some versions of this pas de deux are extremely complicated and difficult. To me at least, the more complicated something is, the "older" the person performing it seems. Likewise, the less it allows a dancer to "breathe." Not physically breathe (as a dancers endurance will build as they rehearse the part), but breathe artistically.

And what is the point of doing Romeo and Juliet if you aren't going to be able to just stand there and wallow in the pretense of being in love... on stage.

"Rapture" is fairly easy for me to get into when I am dancing or choreographing. The difficulty here was that I felt (feel) that this particular music projects the IDEA of rapture, rather than actually achieving it. In otherwords, it has an element of cheesy-ness. So my big hurdle as a choreographer was to allow myself to "go" there.

So what says romance more than swaying. Yes, the pas de deux is filled with lots of parallel sways. Sways in unison. Sways while lifting Juliet. Sways facing each other. Swoon. Sway. Sway. Lift. Sway. Run. Run. Sway, etc etc.

It really isn't such a big hurdle, when you choose to do it. Now I just have to figure out how to tell the "whole story," complete with overwrought double suicide endings.

But I have a year to do so.



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