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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Moscow City Ballet: Romeo and Juliet | Palace Theatre | Manchester

Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers are taking to the Palace theatre stage in a traditional production of Romeo and Juliet the ballet. The Moscow City Ballet have reinterpreted the 1597 text to charming effect, revelling in the couple’s battle with family rivalries and forbidden love through classical dance.

The Shakespeare inspired piece is set far away in Verona, where the two fated lovers from feuding families marry in secret. Despite relocating the couple’s untimely death to the first scene of the first act, the show carries a suspenseful and lively atmosphere throughout its production. Evidence of destruction and prosperity lay in the distinctive weighty dance style of choreographer Victor Smirnov-Golovanov, that is heightened by the live Moscow City Ballet Orchestra.

With an extensive history representing and updating the narrative through film and theatre, the Moscow City Ballet flourishing with a naturalistic celebration of their love. The old-school romance is given a classic look with the Palace theatre stage adorned with static painted backdrops of stained-glass church windows, the streets of Verona and Juliet’s night garden. The company’s sizable ensemble brings surges of energy and drama through visually exciting swashbuckling duels and conflicts that move between the couple’s personal journey.

The passionate Dmitry Lazovik (Romeo) and angelic Ksnia Stankevich (Juliet) soak the audience in light, sumptuously love scenes. After barely touching from their first encounter, the lovers gradually merge their routines into more intense and enduring duets. Leaving lavish set pieces aside, Moscow City Ballet’s emotional performances bring the tragic romance to life with gentle and venerable routines. Stankevich solos feel dynamic alongside the beautiful score that supports and holds the character in her forbidden love.

Moscow City Ballet has simplified the complex layers of Shakespeare’s narrative of feuding families, religious barriers and fate into a style that is accessible. Reaching out to encourage a younger audience to engage with the story, the production has toured with the company for over twenty-five years and remains a staple in their repertoire. Pulling focus on the emotion from the dancers in their open and simplic interpretation, the show relishes in the feelings Shakespeare forms through words. Here the feelings are as strong as ever, harmonised with the rousing music of Sergey Prokofiev including the familiar BBC’s The Apprentice theme tune, Dance of the Knights that is played as Tybalt (Kozhabayev Talgat) parades his power alongside the Capulets.

The playful Moscow City Ballet production evokes the universal themes of Shakespeare’s most famous love story through an inviting production that should be relived.

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