Northern Ballet's new Romeo and Juliet heads to Edinburgh and Leeds
Acclaimed company set aside their classic take on Shakespeare's tragic romance for an energetic new ballet by Jean-Christophe Maillot
For 20 years, Northern Ballet has been known for its passionate and crowd-pleasing production of Romeo and Juliet. But even a well-loved classic needs a rest. Which is why the company is temporarily setting aside the Christopher Gable/Massimo Moricone version, and bringing in a new ballet by Frenchman Jean-Christophe Maillot.
‘I wanted to have a contrasting production,’ explains artistic director, David Nixon, ‘because I think it’s interesting for an audience to see different takes on the same subject – especially something as popular as Romeo and Juliet.
‘And the physicality and aesthetic in Jean-Christophe’s production is totally different. The dancers have to put a lot of energy into it, and I have a very young company now, with lots of energy.’
Although some things are still in place – Prokofiev’s stunning score for one thing – Maillot approaches Shakespeare’s tragic romance from a refreshingly new angle, putting the Friar at the heart of the action.
‘In so many productions, the Friar only appears for the wedding, with the potion and sometimes at the end,’ says Nixon. ‘But he’s quite crucial, because a lot of the things he does affect the outcome of everybody. So in Jean-Christophe’s version, the Friar threads through the whole piece, from beginning to end.’