Sunday, November 18, 2012

SF Ballet's Romeo and Juliet

I went to see the San Francisco Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet yesterday with a friend from my Wednesday class. It was very moving. By that I mean it was as well acted as it was danced. During the climactic scene where Romeo drinks poison, I heard a young girl behind me say softly, "Oh no, don't!" By the time Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead and kills herself with a dagger, many people around me were crying quietly.

The effect was only slightly marred when, as Romeo tries to dance with the limp body of the dead sleeping Juliet, the thought briefly went through my head: "Zombie Juliet!" Hey, it's only been a couple of weeks since Halloween.

One of the things that really helped bring the ballet to life for me was a book I picked up on Amazon recently. It describes each scene of a ballet, kind of like the blurb in the Playbill, only in far greater detail. This substitutes for the dialog that would otherwise help you understand who is whom and what's going on. The book is 101 Stories of the Great Ballets: The scene-by-scene stories of the most popular ballets, old and new by a couple of ballet know-nothings named George Balanchine and Francis Mason. If you want to understand what Juliet and her nurse are doing while Juliet is looking in the mirror and the nurse cups and lifts Juliet's breasts (get your mind out of the gutter!), this is a book for you.

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