Romeo and Julia by State Ballet Berlin: Illfated lovers in an illfated premiereDanspubliek on 11.Feb.2012 21:40
Illfated lovers in an illfated premiere!
The story of Romeo and Juliet tells us in essence about the fragility of human existence and the
strength of the human spirit when inspired by love. To not have it deteriorate into a mere tragic
entertainment, it needs to be portrayed by mature and exceptionally sensitive artists.
Not only the lovers in Berlins State Ballet's premiere of Romeo and Juliet were illfated, but so was
the whole event!
It was already questionable if it was such a good idea to premiere Cranko's old fashioned version of
Shakespeare's tragedy, but with the expectation of the company's peerless dramatic ballerina Nadja
Saidakova as Juliet it was still eagerly awaited. Only an artist like Saidakova with her refined
musicality, lyricism and dramatic power could have intelligently turned this premiere into an event.
But alas, due to an injury of Saidakova this did not happen.
Thus were we bluntly confronted with all the weaknesses of the piece, that nowadays looks
True, Cranko is a fine dramaturg, especially in the second act. But his choreography is insipid and at
times unwillingly funny.
The part of Juliet was taken over by Iana Salenko, a truely lovely dancer, but, at least at this point of
her career, not suited to dance a part as dramatic as Juliet. One could admire her lovely physique
and polished technique, but one was never touched!
In Juliet's refusal to marry Paris, one could not help thinking that she would be a lovely Lise in La
Fille mal gardèe.
Marian Walter as Romeo fared much better. He was especially convincing in the second act where,
after his secret marriage to Juliet, he was brutally taken into another part of reality, with Tybalt
(magnificently characterised by Wieslaw Dudek!) waiting to have a duel with him and after refusing
this, seeing his best friend Mercutio (Dinu Tamazlacaru) getting killed by the latter.
Romeo's innocence, confusion and subsequent outrage were most beautifully portraied by Walter!
This scene which has more acting than actual dancing in it, is where Cranko is at his most
It also was a pleasure to see the Benvolio of Alexander Shpak, not only an accomplished technician,
but also a natural performer.
Charlotte Butler was a lovely warmhearted nurse, unfortunately dressed in some scenes as a
character coming straight out of a story by Charles Dickens.
The corps did their best, but here Cranko unfortunately is, as always, at his weakest.
The production was newly designed by Thomas Mika: Juliet's balcony looking beautiful but
unfitting like a Japanese garden, poor Michael Banzhaf as Paris wearing a most ridiculous costume
in the 3rd act, the girls with the lilies carrying golden flowers(!) and during the funeral electric
candles were lighting automatically one after another!
The best is to forget and to wait for the reprise of Cranko's masterpiece Onegin, with hopefully both
Saidakova (Tatyana) and Salenko (Olga) well casted in parts they already deeply impressed us with.