ROMEO + JULIET TONIGHT ON LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER

(photo by Paul Kolnik, of Sterling Hyltin and Robert Fairchild, taken from NYObserver)

Don’t forget: tonight on PBS Live From Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet performing Peter Martins’ Romeo + Juliet. It’s not my favorite version of the ballet, but it grew on me the last time I saw it, and the dancers are superb. So please watch, or DVR or Tivo or whatever, while So You Think You Can Dance premieres on Fox. Let me know what you all think!

17 Comments

  1. I'm so pumped about NYCB's Romeo and Juliet tonight! I wish that PBS, or any other channel per se, would show ballet more often.

    Wouldn't it be nice if this program get high ratings? Perhaps PBS would be convinced to air more ballet performances!

  2. I am really enjoying this. The big fight scene was sword of awesome :)

  3. Although I'm thrilled to see ballet on TV, this version of Romeo and Juliet is also not my favorite. The dancing is of course marvelous but the staging, set, and interpretation is odd. Why would Juliet cry when she wakes up? The Prince was an out of place character in the fight scene. The priest wouldn’t hug Juliet in that manner….. The acting is off.

    The best Romeo and Juliet was broadcast live by ABT Kevin McKenzie and Natalia McKarava. Although Kevin McKenzie forgot and left his leg warmers on for the last pas, the choreography, staging, acting and dancing were breathtaking. This version is not close to American Ballet Theater's version.

  4. This was a monumental mounting of this production and should be seen by every student who reads the play. It would so enhance their understanding of the characters and emotions behind the tragedy. I was able to view it between 1 and 3:am. Why not prime time?

  5. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    I know, wouldn't it! I think they should broadcast ballet about once a week :) Seriously, at least every month or two, come on!

  6. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    I'm glad you liked it, Michael :) You're such a goof :) I know, the fight scene is, I think, my favorite part of the whole thing. They really went all out; I know the dancers had to learn a lot about sword fighting to make it look that real.

  7. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Yeah, I agree about the ABT version. I didn't that particular one, but it's probably the MacMillan, since that's the one ABT always does. My favorite. That is hilarious about McKenzie forgetting his leg warmers — that actually happened! Too funny!

    It's funny but when I wrote about this production when it first premiered two years ago, I talked about the acting, most of which I saw as overacting. I think it's generally improved now, but maybe it's just that I'm getting used to it. I think — and most people commented two years ago when I was critical — that these NYCB dancers are not used to doing dramatic ballets; they mostly do modern abstract and story-less Balanchine ballets, so they're not really trained as actors the same as the ABT dancers are (whose classical Met season is almost entirely the big story ballets). I think that might be part of it. And also, I think it might have to do with Martins wanting younger dancers, and to really drive home how young they were, to in turn drive home the tragedy of it all.

    But, like with the bedroom scene, I still think it's not weighty enough. Romeo's just killed Tybalt, he's just been banished from Verona, they're realize now their plan to explain to their families their love and live happily ever after is not going to work so smoothly. When he goes off for Mantua, they don't really have a plan yet. And then she has to set her plan into action before seeing him again when she realizes her parents are going to make her marry Paris very very soon. But, others dance that scene with much more somberness; they're confused about and scared for the future. And they're now married, their marriage consummate, their now adults. But Martins seems to still want them to be a bit childish. I guess they ARE still children even though they're thrown into this very adult situation. So Juliet is still flighty and girlish and Romeo is sweeping her off her feet and it ends up looking like the balcony scene all over. I think this scene should have a lot more weight. But maybe others think differently and think it makes more sense to have them still be so youthful…

    But yeah, the whole thing, when she hugs the priest's robe — it's all very girlish and youthful. Every dancer seems to be doing it the same, so I don't think it's the individual dancers making decisions, I think they're following Martins' instructions.

  8. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Oh, interesting — where are you located? It showed here from 8:00 to 10:30 at night, which was the exact time it was being performed at Lincoln Center (I'm in New York). I think it's supposed to show on Saturday night on the west coast. I'm really surprised they broadcast it from 1-3 in the morning! I hope they're going to show it again everywhere.

  9. The performance last night was absolutely beautiful! Sterling Hyltin was sensational as a dancer and actress; she is truly a master of communicating a story through movement and facial expression. If the dance world had its own version of the Oscars, she would win for Best Actress. She and Robert (Robbie) Fairchild had great chemistry, which was very appealing to the viewers at home. As Peter had mentioned, the principals weren't just acting their roles; they absorbed the roles and I couldn’t agree more.

    Daniel Ulbricht's jumps were fabulous, as always, and the audience responded well with loud cheers. My mother called during intermission and yelled “holy sh*t, the man in the purple's jumps were unbelievable!” Those exact thoughts streamed through my mind about Daniel's performance.

    Kudos to Joaquin De Luz, Antonio Carmena, and the male corps for such exciting, yet dangerous swords fights. The fighting looked real and not overly staged. Jock Soto and Darci Kistler were regal on stage, as did Adrian Danchig-Waring. Adrian reminded me of a classic danseur from the 1950's who would partner Maria Tallchief. Like you Tonya, I found the faux facial hair a tad odd.

    Shakespeare would be proud!

    To convince PBS to air more ballet, let them know how much you enjoyed last night's program – I did!

    http://www.pbs.org/aboutsite/aboutsite_emailfor

    I would so donate to PBS if they show ballet more often!

  10. Magmificemt. conceptually ….beautifully carried out….impossible to imagine better…
    even in the future…..

  11. Hi Tonya – I'm watching it now. I just watched the famous pas de deux – I love the MacMillan version, but man, this choreography was so stagnant! There was no real impetus or movement in the choreography, while the music is swirling around them in music that begs for movement. I'm disappointed that Peter Martins' wasn't more musical about his choreography. Poor Fairchild and Hyltin are trying their best to keep things moving. That whole pdd should be a buildup, and a slow growing awakening for R and J's love, but it was rather in fits and starts.

    Anyways I'm still watching, but it's hard to keep watching. Do you know if there's a full cast list somewhere? Who's Tybalt and Mercutio and Paris? Thanks! :) Nice to see Jock Soto back on stage too.

  12. Hello Jolene,

    Principal castings are posted on the Company's website. Here is the one from the PBS telecast:

    Source: http://www.nycballet.com/casting/wk4.html
    JULIET: Hyltin, ROMEO: R. Fairchild, TYBALT: De Luz, MERCUTIO: Ulbricht, BENVOLIO: Carmena, JULIET’S NURSE: Pazcoguin, PARIS: Danchig-Waring, LADY CAPULET: Kistler, LORD CAPULET: Soto+, FRIAR LAURENCE: J. Stafford, PRINCE OF VERONA: Evans

    Weren't they all fantastic or what?

  13. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thank you Lesley! You answered before I got around to it :)

    Jolene, it's so funny because we've become such good friends through our blogs but I keep forgetting that we don't hang out all the time and see the same ballet companies!

    I'm sorry!: Just to give a bit more: Mercutio is the high-jumping, always crowd-wowing Daniel Ulbricht, Tybalt is the also virtousic Joaquin de Luz (who I like a lot), Benvolio is a kind of up and coming dancer Antonio Carmena, Paris is the danseur noble Adrian Danchig-Waring who is fast becoming a heartthrob around here :), and Lady Capulet is Darci Kistler, Peter Martins's wife who is set to retire soon — she's the last remaining dancer who worked with Balanchine, so her retirement will be a very big deal.

  14. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Hi Sharon. Thanks for commenting. Unfortunately I don't have a copy but someone else might. It might be for sale on the PBS website; if not, it may become available for sale through NYCB. I'll look and let you know!

  15. Thanks Lesley! That helps a lot.

    I totally feel the same way, Tonya! I only know a handful of dancers at NYCB – I recognized Jock Soto, and that was probably about it. I know I'm totally late in jumping into this R+J conversation, but Sterling and Robert were absolutely beautiful, although I found their chemistry a tad sterile (the poor choreography didn't help either). Sterling's a gorgeous actress. The sword fighting was lots of fun, and Robert especially had a really fierce intensity that was engaging.

    I know Peter Martins really wanted everything to be “authentic”, but the sword fighting was amazing not because it was necessarily authentic, but it was entertaining. (Wasn't that such an awkward interview?) I think there's got be a point to authenticity – it shouldn't be an endpoint in itself, or we wouldn't even have theater but we'd be out, experiencing real life. I don't see the point in Jock actually hitting Sterling either – especially in the tv version, she was hidden from view directly upstage from him so no one got to see it anyways.

    Daniel Ulbricht really has a sunny, guy next door look that gave a different spin to Mercutio – not the jaded, living-on-the-edge because he has nothing to lose (re: Baz Luhrmann's Mercutio in his movie) but more of a prankster who gets himself into a deeper situation than previously thought. And am I also the only one to notice the lack of diversity onstage at Lincoln Center? Evans stood out like a sore thumb – oh and Joaquin too. I guess I'm more used to the diverse SFB dancers, but maybe it was just me.

    I still love that this was aired and I got to see it. Cheers for PBS! Here's to hoping for more ballet on TV. Can you imagine if ballet performances were aired like baseball games with different casts, etc.? That'd be so cool.

  16. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks for that great, well-thought-out analysis Jolene! Regarding the diversity, I noticed it right off when I first started going to NYCB (ABT is much more diverse), but then I guess I got used to it. But you're totally right. There are Albert Evans, Craig Hall and Amar Ramasar, and I think practically everyone else is white — particularly the women. The have almost all light-skinned women in the company.

    Yeah, the fighting should definitely be entertaining — and it was. I'm not sure if Jock actually hit Juliet or if he made it sound that way by slapping his hand or something else. You know how they do that in theater? I remember Alastair Macaulay wrote an article about how Peter Martins had slapped Darci Kistler early on (in their personal lives; they are married) and Balanchine really chewed him out for it, told him woman is beauty, yadda yadda. So, Macaulay wrote about how there were echoes of that — now in Martins's choreography — here. It caused a bit of a scandal for a while here.

  17. SwanLakeSambaGirl

    Thanks for that great, well-thought-out analysis Jolene! Regarding the diversity, I noticed it right off when I first started going to NYCB (ABT is much more diverse), but then I guess I got used to it. But you're totally right. There are Albert Evans, Craig Hall and Amar Ramasar, and I think practically everyone else is white — particularly the women. The have almost all light-skinned women in the company.

    Yeah, the fighting should definitely be entertaining — and it was. I'm not sure if Jock actually hit Juliet or if he made it sound that way by slapping his hand or something else. You know how they do that in theater? But regardless, it was the representation and the suggestion of violence that shook people up. I remember Alastair Macaulay wrote an article about how Peter Martins had slapped Darci Kistler early on (in their personal lives; they are married) and Balanchine really chewed him out for it, told him woman is beauty, yadda yadda. So, Macaulay wrote about how there were echoes of that — now in Martins's choreography — here. It caused a bit of a scandal for a while here.

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