Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo Transforms Romeo and Juliet as Ballet Review

Credit: Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Romeo and Juliet is a timeless tale from William Shakespeare and has been adapted into films (Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet) and inspired films like Romeo Must Die and West Side Story. The tragic story of two young lovers is a universal story that can be felt in many love stories. Christophe Maillot adapts the tale of the Capulets vs the Montagues and puts his own spin on things with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s a refreshing take on the popular play with abstract scenery, mesmerizing choreography that fuses balletic dances and silent storytelling.

I watched Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s production of Romeo and Juliet at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, CA. The story starts off with Friar Laurence, a man who tries to do good but unintentionally helps in the death of the young lovers. The story is told via flashbacks as the tortured man relives these moments throughout the performance.

The show is told in three acts, with the first intermission allowing for a longer break and the second being shorter. The first act focuses on setting up characters like Romeo and Juliet, the impulsive Mercutio, and the aggressive Tybalt. Romeo hangs out with Mercutio and Benvolio and they decide to crash the Capulet’s ball wearing masks. We see the three pursue the different ladies at the ball, but this is when Romeo and Juliet discover each other and start to fall for each other.

It’s all very abstract in the sets and the performances with no dialogue, so it’s fun trying to decipher what’s happening in the story and figuring out who the different characters are. It’s easy to see which member belongs to which family, and watching the story unfold through dancing is a very imaginative experience. Since this is a love story, things can get somewhat steamy, especially for a stage performance of a tale that’s known all over. The romance between some of the characters can get passionate for a ballet show.

As for the outfits, the male dancers wear tights that really show off their legs, and the female dancers’ outfits range from dresses to revealing ones like Juliet’s outfit. These dancers all have a fit physique, and their movements are elegant and graceful. The battles between the Montague vs the Capulets give me West Side Story vibes, and there’s even a moment where the performers fight in slow motion. This was definitely one of the highlights of the show.

Final Reaction

The performance of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s Romeo and Juliet at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is a surreal experience that adapts a popular story and brings it to life with a beautiful dance. The dancers were all wonderful and it’s a testament to their skills, performing these twisting moves while making them look effortless.

For upcoming shows at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, visit the site here.

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