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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

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As was recently discovered by musicologist Simon Morrison, Prokofiev’s most famous ballet Romeo and Juliet, created in 1935 with the dramatist Sergei Radlov, used to have an anti-Shakespearean happy ending, seemingly suitable for the Soviet era optimistic views on human nature. Nevertheless, the original score was severely criticized by the cultural authorities and the premiere was delayed until five years later, when the audacious composer submitted to the pressure and restored the order. Mark Morris Dance Group performed Prokofiev’s original version for the first time last weekend at Cal Performances, opening the Dance series of the current season. Adding to the rebellious spirit of the piece, Morris cast Amber Darragh as Mercutio, and Julie Worden as Tybalt, and these two amazing dancers stole the show with their outstanding vigor, athletic perfection, acting talent and overall grace. Bravo, maestro Morris, you outdid yourself this time! (if that’s at all possible). With a genius ease, as he always does, Morris concludes the show with a scene of universal love and kisses exchanged by formerly bitter enemies, and after all, isn’t art all about it? Morris’s another return to his second home at Cal Performances in Berkeley couldn’t have been more pleasing. The Group is now embarking on a more than a yearlong national and international tour with the newly discovered happier version of the formerly saddest tragedy in the world. Long live love, comrades! To see the Mark Morris Dance Group tour schedule, visit To see Cal Performances program, go to: Photo: Gene Schiavone. Maile Okamura as Juliet and Noah Vinson as Romeo.


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