Romeo and Juliet is one of choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s most eloquent and heart-wrenching ballets; and it’s one of the brightest jewels in The Royal Ballet’s repertoire.
The story of the ‘star-cross’d lovers’ set in boisterous, violent Renaissance Verona is vivid enough when seen on stage with Nicholas Georgiadis' sumptuous designs and Sergei Prokofiev’s memorable score.
Now, though, we are taken much closer to the reality of life in Romeo and Juliet’s day with a new film version of the ballet, which moves the action away from the stage and out onto the streets and palaces where it developed. It’s ballet for 21st-century audiences.
The film-makers are William Trevitt and Michael Nunn, the former Royal Ballet dancers who went on to became the original BalletBoyz and are the artistic directors of the current all-male BalletBoyz troupe.
Film has always been an integral part of Trevitt and Nunn’s approach to dance, and they’ve built up a solid portfolio of dance films. For the centenary of World War I they filmed BalletBoyz’Young Men on location in the battlefields of northern France, where Iván Pérez’s original choreography gained new poignancy.
The film of Young Men won a raft of awards, including the prestigious Rose d’Or at the 2017 Prague arts awards.
Nunn and Trevitt have always kept their connection with their alma mater, The Royal Ballet, so they were the logical directors to create a film of one of the Royal Ballet's landmark productions.
Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was filmed in Budapest and contains a skilful blend of street scenes and interiors, bringing to life the cheek-by-jowl promiscuity of public spaces, the sumptuous Capulet palace, and the touching intimacy of the lovers' encounters. Its composition and palette are reminiscent of Renaissance paintings.
It uses Prokofiev’s score in a recording made at the Royal Opera House by the Royal Ballet orchestra.
The cast is to die for, featuring the crème de la crème of The Royal Ballet: Francesca Hayward as a touchingly vulnerable, yet headstrong, waif-like Juliet, William Bracewell as a dashing and passionate Romeo, newly promoted principal Marcelino Sambé as the daredevil Mercutio, Matthew Ball as a fascinatingly nuanced Tybalt.
Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words will be shown on New Year's Day on BBC Two, as part of the BBC's seasonal dance programming, and will be available on iPlayer afterwards. We can think of no better way to start the New Year...
|What||Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words, BBC Two|
|Where||BBC Two, BBC Two , BBC Two , BBC Two | MAP|
On 01 Jan 20, 17:30 Dur.: 1 hour 30 mins approx