Monday, 12 December 2011

Graeme Murphy's 'Romeo and Juliet'

The Australian Ballet's summer performance is a showcase of technical finesse and aesthetic creativity. Shakespeare's much-loved play has endured many interpretations over the years but this Graeme Murphy production certainly focuses on the timelessness of Romeo and Juliet.

The ballet opens with typical medieval scenery, set against Provokiev's iconic score, and moves across time and place into an oriental marketplace, Japanese temple and dramatic desert landscape. Set and lighting designers innovatively developed vivid scenery that seemed half-imaginary, especially with projected light displays and smoke.

The dancing is flawless, with the the principals expressing sincere emotion and sensitivity towards the theatric choreography. Leanne Stojmenov played a petite, youthful Juliet and Daniel Gaudiello wooed the audience with his passionate virility. The rest of the cast maintained a sense of character, especially Juliet's nurse during the balcony pas de deux. Mercutio, in fact, was awarded the loudest applause by the audience. Tybalt was played by the talented Chengwu Guo, who previously played the role of teenaged Li Cunxin in 2009's Mao's Last Dancer.

The costume work by Akira Isogawa has received much media attention but it is hard to ignore the material part of the spectacle where colour, crystals and creativity supported the dancers' movements with grace and personality. Murphy's reinvention of a romantic classic was successful in not only exploring the tenderness of first love but also the consequences of greed and conflict to the human existence.

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