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Friday, March 9, 2012

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By Emma Krasov

There are usually quite a few Romeo & Juliets in every balletomane’s life. Helgi Tomasson’s production now playing at San Francisco Ballet might eclipse even the most memorable ones, as the entire spectacle is nothing short of a masterpiece.
At the show opening, a constellation of the company’s brightest stars brought to life Shakespeare’s timeless tale and Prokofiev’s expressive music (conductor Martin West) afresh – as if for the very first time.
Precise movement, row emotion, and dramatic character depictions, plus lavish costumes and inspired stage set (Jens-Jacob Worsaae) sent palpable waves of pure energy into the audience.
Maria Kochetkova is a wonderful Juliet, of course, with her petit figure and enormous talent – both dancing and dramatic. The effortless flow of her performance brings forward the emotion, the feeling. She embodies the Bard’s poetry on stage with clarity and grace that seem to come to her naturally.
She plays, she longs for her beloved, she pleads with her authoritative father (Val Caniparoli), she rejects her seeker, tender yet confident Paris (Garen Scribner), she loves and grieves with utter sincerity.
Joan Boada as Romeo is every bit as endearing with his youthful passion and openness, delivering the image of ultimate lover through many wonderful and technically superb details of his dancing.
Speaking of the leads, Gennadi Nedvigin as Mercutio reaches a kind of perfection that is almost impossible to believe. He shines in this challenging and highly energetic role, never losing the beat, breathtakingly-engaging from the beginning to the end.
The tendency to give their very best to the role, prompted by the choreography, is obvious in all the dancers, from the main characters to the amazing street acrobats (Dores Andre, Benjamin Stewart, Matthew Stewart) and citizens of Verona. One of the most impressive scenes beyond the leads is performed by Pauli Magierek as Lady Capulet grieving her hotheaded son, Tybalt (Daniel Daivison) who perished in a lightning-speed rapier fight.
The fight scenes deserve a special mention. Staged by Martino Pistone with Helgi Tomasson, they are stunningly realistic – a result of not only relentless rehearsing, but dancer-to-dancer matching to maintain the equilibrium between truthfulness and safety.
Premiered in 1994, Romeo & Juliet remains one of the highest achievements of SF Ballet, and a pinnacle of the current season.
The show runs through March 11 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco at 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.
Coming up: Program 5 March 21 – April 1; Program 6 March 23 – April 3.Tickets and information at: 415-864-3330 or
Image courtesy SF Ballet: Romeo & Juliet at SF Ballet. Photo by Erik Tomasson.


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