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In This ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Ballet, a Rebel Juliet  

2016-06-21 13:36:42|  分类: 音乐和舞蹈演出 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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By ALASTAIR MACAULAY

In This ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Ballet, a Rebel Juliet - 黄牧 - 黄牧的樂府 MUSIC  BALLET
 
 
 
 

The most famous music in Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” does not go to the lovers of the title. It’s a dance of patriarchy, often called the “Dance of the Knights,” halfway through Act I. Ballet is usually an art in which men chivalrously allow women to shine; not so in the Verona conceived by Shakespeare and reimagined for dance theater by Prokofiev. To the pounding bass line of the brass (oom-pah–oom-pah), the men of Juliet’s family, the Capulets, demonstrate their authority, ceremoniously marching forward in splendor.

A choreographer has choices, of course: Frederick Ashton in his 1955 version — recently revived by Los Angeles Ballet — began this number with a virtuoso solo for Juliet’s suitor, Paris. When the strings race up and down, he jumps powerfully on the spot, his feet crisscrossing in the air (entrechat-quatre) like blades. Other Capulet men soon follow suit behind him.

But Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 version, which returns to American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House this week, and which the Royal Ballet has just danced in Tokyo, emphasizes the patriarchal element. After a scene change, light suddenly floods onto the gorgeous ballroom, with its balconies and three grand staircases. The rich colors of Nicholas Georgiadis’s costumes, akin to those of Venetian Renaissance painting, make a sensation before anyone moves. Then the men advance in slow, heavy columns. When the Capulet women follow (almost a minute in), also in columns, they’re decorous and subservient.

Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet Dance of the Knights Video by Festival Vita Music

Romeo and Juliet have not met yet — that comes in a few minutes’ time, at this ball. But MacMillan makes it clear what they’ll be up against. Until that point, MacMillan largely follows the lines of Leonid Lavrovsky’s “Romeo,” first staged for the Kirov Ballet in 1940 and associated from 1944 with the Bolshoi Ballet. Like many, MacMillan (1929-1992) was deeply impressed by this production when the Bolshoi first appeared in London in 1956. But by the time he made “Romeo,” MacMillan had become one of Britain’s Angry Young Men, like the playwright John Osborne, with whom he had worked.

Two minutes into this dance, he brings Juliet (Tamara Rojo in this YouTube clip) into the ballroom. What’s so characteristic of MacMillan is that — though she makes a perfect ballerina-type entrance down the stairs and into the center of the ballroom in her marvelous white dress — it’s an anticlimax. Nobody even notices her! She runs back, disconsolate, to her Nurse.

       No choreographer before MacMillan would have timed this ballerina entrance so that it has a noneffect. And this prepares us for the drama that follows: Juliet is expected to know her place, and to take no initiatives of her own.

Encouraged to try again, she pays her respects to her father, who in turn presents her to Paris. She shyly avoids this suitor, instead running away to greet her mother. But Paris is still waiting. Finally, she politely takes his hand while the Capulets resume their formation. As the brass returns to that slow oom-pah-oom-pah, the clan completes its patriarchal dance ritual.

For MacMillan and the dancer for whom he conceived the role, Lynn Seymour (his muse for 20 years), Juliet becomes a rebel when she discovers love. Both the choreographer and his ballerina were steeped in “West Side Story” (the updated New York 1957 “Romeo” that had run in the West End of London longer than it had on Broadway) and in Franco Zeffirelli’s sensational 1960 staging of the play for the new Royal Shakespeare Company, with Judi Dench as Juliet.

Alone on her balcony after meeting Romeo at the ball, Ms. Seymour — the most radical actress in ballet throughout the 1960s and 1970s — would writhe, pressing her arms and neck against the ledge and columns of the balcony like a cat in heat; decades later, she told me, “That was my Judi Dench rip off — I was wild about that Zeffirelli production.”

The balcony pas de deux that followed was a flood of sensuous dance contradicting all the courteous behavior that had gone before. And Juliet’s mettlesome temper became the engine that fueled the drama, above all in Act III, in which she seldom leaves the stage. This YouTube clip shows Ms. Seymour and David Wall in 1979, experienced MacMillan dancers both, in the bedroom pas de deux that opens that final act; it’s clear how much Juliet has been transformed into a passionate, reckless adult by the discovery of sexual love.

Lynn Seymour & David Wall "Romeo and Juliet" Bedroom PDD Video by Gualtier Maldè

In the 1980s, MacMillan discovered another muse, Alessandra Ferri; he created several ballets for her. The liquidity of her physique and arches of her feet became famous; so did her capacity for depicting intense emotion. She first danced his Juliet in 1984 with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in London — this YouTube of her balcony scene with Wayne Eagling comes from later that year — and danced it throughout her long era with Ballet Theater (1986-2007). In 2013 she began to return to dance, showing herself to be the same bold and uncompromising artist as before.

This Thursday, at age 53, Ms. Ferri returns to Juliet. This breaks no records: Margot Fonteyn, who danced the premiere of MacMillan’s version, was still a memorable Juliet (with Rudolf Nureyev’s Romeo) at 56. But it’s a homecoming. No Ballet Theater performance this season is more eagerly anticipated.

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