Jan 16 2019 | Posted in Press Releases

Romeo & Juliet’s combination of action, romance, comedy and tragedy an audience favourite

​Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo & Juliet, one of the most popular Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) productions of all time, returns to the Centennial Concert Hall from February 13-17 after being in a moratorium for 5 years. Set to Serge Prokofiev’s glorious score performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Toer van Schayk’s magnificent recreation of sixteenth century Italy, the production is a dramatic tour-de-force of Shakespeare’s infamous play that highlights the versatility and technical excellence that has made the RWB world-renowned.

Though Romeo & Juliet was Dutch choreographer Rudi van Dantzig’s first full-length ballet, it has been heralded as a ballet that truly displays the emotion of the play. Adapted and premiered by the RWB in 1981, the RWB’s Romeo & Juliet includes apprentices and students from the RWB School, in addition to the regular Company, totaling nearly 75 dancers.

“Van Dantzig was an artist of the rarest calibre; a writer, dancer, and choreographer, whose aesthetic instincts were matched only by his strong opinions and political voice,” says RWB Artistic Director and CEO André Lewis. “Though no longer with us, he left behind a great legacy of works including this stunning production of Romeo & Juliet. Created for the Dutch National Ballet (where he was Artistic Director), his vision of the Bard’s story is at once poetic, exciting, and deeply romantic.”

Although Prokofiev’s music for Romeo & Juliet is today considered a masterpiece, the composer likely believed the score would never be performed. Originally commissioned by Leningrad’s Kirov Theatre in 1934, the production was cancelled when the dancers complained the music was undanceable. A few years later, both the Kirov and Bolshoi performed the ballet to much acclaim, considering it an important advance in Russian ballet music.

“Prokofiev’s score is one of the most powerful pieces of music for telling a story,” says Earl Stafford, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra guest conductor. “The power of his music comes from the harmonies that he has written. His music is a direct translation of the tender, strong and powerful moments of the ballet.”

Romeo & Juliet has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Winnipeg Arts Council.