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Romeo and Juliet

Music by Prokofiev

English National Ballet

Palace Theatre, Manchester

26 November 2015

nureyev_romeo_2015_740x448__credit_bill_cooper_jpg__740x448_q85_crop_upscaleEnglish National Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Bill Cooper

Set and costumes redolent of Renaissance Italy, music by Prokofiev and, crucially, choreography by Nureyev.

It was a fleeting vision, this production, the dancers seeming to float upon the stage, ephemeral presences in a tragedy from long ago. In the background a formidable Duomo-like building of green and white marble and an outsize Palazzo, based perhaps on the Palazzo Strozzi, to represent the two houses of Capulet and Montague. The principals, Isaac Hernandez as Romeo, Alina Cojocaru as Juliet and, not least,  Fernando Bufala as Mercutio, excelled in bringing Nureyev’s choreography to life.

Even with Kenneth MacMillan’s choreography, Romeo and Juliet is a great ballet; but Nureyev’s touch makes it simply magnificent. I’d characterize his version as a series of tumultuous waves, a cascade of all-flowing, thunderous motion. Mind, the end is still tragicomic rather than tragic: the couple take it in turns to die, seems like they can’t make their minds up.

Romeo and Juliet finished its tour in Manchester, but English National Ballet – a brilliant company – have a production of Nutcracker playing in London over Christmas. Details here.