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The Australian Ballet presents Romeo and Juliet in Adelaide

23 May 2012 6,953 views No Comment

Angela McDonald Booth previews the Australian Ballet’s upcoming performances…

My experiences with Graeme Murphy’s choreography spans from his Sydney Dance Company works Daphis and Chloe in 1989 to Fornicon in 1995. There may have been some on either side, and certainly many in between, but these were the defining moments for me. From the modern adaptation of the Ancient Greek tale of lost love, complete with charmingly unexpected skate board gliding Cupid, my journey with Murphy, watching as an aspiring young dancer, began with enthrallment and fascination. Not too many years later, as a much more jaded artist, my love affair with his work descended violently as I found myself walking out of the coarse and grinding chaos that was Fornicon, mid-performance.

The Australian Ballet's Romeo and JulietI see now of course, that this was the mark of a great choreographer, one that can craft wonderous things from such vast and varied themes as to render the audience amazed, romanced, and yes, even shocked. All these things and more are required of him for the challenge of choreographing and staging the Australian Ballet’s adaptation of the classic Romeo and Juliet.

I come back to that bad taste in my mouth left by the Fornicon experience when thinking about Murphy’s task at handling one of my favourite, and one of the world’s best known ballets. I hold a particularly protective shield against the tinkering with loved themes and characters. Then I remember the creative and innovative genius that is Murphy’s great strength. His trademark ability to blend the classical ballet technique with contemporary philosophies, the dramatic flamboyance of his storytelling and playfulness of his staging and direction. Countless dance companies and choreographers have interpreted this ballet but his, while surely nodding to the traditional, is bound to enchant and lift the audience to unforgettable new heights.

Kevin Jackson and Madeleine Eastoe in Romeo and JulietThe test will be, for me, the bedroom pas de deux between the tragic couple in the Third Act. As Murphy himself observes it is here that Juliet begins to find the concepts of death and Romeo merge, the line blurs between forbidden love and its consequence. A moment of truth. It is from here that some of Shakespeare’s most profound and touching thoughts spring. Yet it proves, through the throwing of arms around necks, the desperate clinging and clawing, the hollow anguish, that this play can be so beautifully realised in dance and movement.

The Adelaide season of Romeo and Juliet at the Adelaide Festival Centre begins Friday May 25 for six nights and is part of the Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary season. Book at Bass.

You can view a preview of the production on YouTube below, and follow the Australian Ballet Company on Twitter and Facebook.

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