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After 19 years, John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet returns to The Australian Ballet and will be live streamed from Arts Centre Melbourne to audiences all over the world on 18 October 2022. Dancers who grew up watching these roles performed by the company's best will finally get the opportunity to dance them themselves.
Two newly promoted principal dancers Sharni Spencer and Callum Linnane will make their debuts in the leading roles for the live stream.
Australian Ballet's Artistic Director, David Hallberg, says, “Romeo and Juliet are some of the most cherished roles and coaching these talented dancers as they develop their own interpretations is extremely fulfilling.”
Cranko's choreography to Sergei Prokofiev's score was first seen in 1962. Kenneth MacMillan immediately wanted to create his own Romeo and Juliet after seeing Cranko's version for the Stuttgart Ballet, and in 1964 The Royal Ballet's director, Frederick Ashton, gave him the go-ahead. Clive Barnes wrote about Cranko's version in The New York Times in 1966, when it entered the repertoire of the Candian Ballet, and he noted MacMillan's debt:
Mr. Cranko's stagecraft is exemplary, and Kenneth MacMillan, in his Royal Ballet version already seen in New York, has followed many of Mr. Cranko's original dramatic hints. The psychopathic murderousness of Tybalt (a treacherous King of Cats who typically claws Mercutio in the back), the roistering of Mercutio and Benvolio, with their laughing whores and practical jokes, and the wild, startled love of Romeo and Juliet caught like match boxes in a whirlpool, these are the vivid dramatic colors of the picture. Yet it is as much in the details that Mr. Cranko scores.
Tiny points, such as Friar Laurence contemplating both rose and skull before meeting the lovers, or Mercutio dueling to the death with a wench on his arm, or Juliet recoiling from the drug to simulate death as if it were a poisonous snake.
Prokofiev created his masterpiece for the Bolshoi Ballet, and despite interference from Stalin's officials and a rebellion from the Bolshoi's dancers, the score has become one of the most popular ballet scores in the repertoire.
“The audience becomes a part of the ballet when absorbing this masterpiece as this famous tale unfolds before your eyes,” says Hallberg. “Romeo and Juliet gives the dancers of The Australian Ballet the vehicle to tell a story of this power that resonates with all who witness it.”
LIVESTREAM Tuesday 18 October at 7:30pm AEST, available for 48 hours from the start of the performance
Tickets are 25 Australian dollars (about €16, $15.50 US, £14)
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://australianballet.com.au/performances/live-on-ballet-tv
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.