Ballet West's fresh talent take on the classic Romeo and Juliet
Siblings Sara-Maria and Jonathan Barton step into the famous principal roles
Up a winding hill, in the remote village of Taynuilt in the west of Scotland, something magical takes place. From humble beginnings 25 years ago, a tiny dance school with two pupils has flourished into a full-time academy attracting students from all over the world. They come not just for the top-notch training and stunning views, but because Ballet West takes them beyond the studio out into the real world. Each year, the company tours to venues across Scotland, offering trainees insights into the highs and lows of life on the road – and audiences a chance to see the stars of tomorrow.
But fresh young talent aside, the jewels in Ballet West’s crowns are its two principals, Sara-Maria and Jonathan Barton. The son and daughter of Ballet West founder Gillian Barton, both have danced with Britain’s finest ballet companies and have the technique to prove it. Their fine acting skills will be put to the test on the current tour, however, when the siblings step into the roles of lovers Romeo and Juliet.
‘Some of the more special moments won’t really happen until we’re on stage,’ says Jonathan, ‘and then suddenly we’re not brother and sister any more – we’re playing a role and it feels completely different. In the studio, it still feels like I’m dancing with my sister. But that starts to go away with the lights and costumes – you just lose yourself in the role.’
With a nod to classic productions, this new version of Romeo & Juliet has been choreographed by Belgian-born Daniel Job, a regular at Ballet West. ‘Daniel has been inspired by some of the Russian productions, but from there he’s very much made it his own,’ says Jonathan. ‘There are things in this production I’ve never seen before, because he loves to throw in things that people aren’t expecting.’