Behind the Curtain

Jan 15 2014 | Posted in Blog

Romeo + Juliet


Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo + Juliet is a powerful retelling of William Shakespeare’s tragic play. In this staging, contrasts are drawn between the crowds of common townspeople in the aristocratic elegance of the two feuding families. There is also a distinction made between the interaction of the influential families and the townspeople’ the Capulets look down on the common folk of Verona, while the Montagues are friendly and sympathetic towards them.

Throughout the ballet there is a sense of sadness and a strong foreshadowing of death. The giant death figure that appears in the town square lunging through the crowds is a symbol of the fate of the city.

Though true to Shakespeare in essence, van Dantzig, like many choreographers, has also incorporated his own ideas of plot into the drama and adds his own personal touch to the work. For example, van Dantzig has added a marriage scene in Act I, where Friar Laurentius is seen blessing a young couple. Also, in van Dantzig’s ballet, Romeo stabs himself with a dagger when he sees Juliet’s lifeless body, whereas in Shakespeare’s play Romeo dies by poison.

Fun fact: The choreography of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s version of Romeo + Juliet was inspired by the movie of Franco Zeffirelli.

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Romeo + Juliet:

Romeo + Juliet had its world premiere in 1965 and was brought to Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet stage on September 30, 1981.


Approximately 40 dancers take the stage in the production and they have spend more than 120 hours rehearsing for the performance.

Set and costumes:

The splendour of sixteenth-century Verona is recreated by the magnificent sets and costumes of Toer van Schayk. There are approximately 102 costumes used in the RWB’s production of Romeo + Juliet and many dancers change costumes several times.

The Fight Scenes:

The swords used in the fight scenes are sport fencing Epées with blades made of tempered steel.

Romeo + Juliet will be on a Western Canadian Tour from January 13 to February 1 and will be at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg from February 14 to 16.