Matthew Bourne’s raw, unconventional ballet ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to hit Seoul in May

This 2023 rehearsal image shows Matthew Bourne's ballet 'Romeo and Juliet' at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, U.K.   Courtesy of Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne, a British choreographer famous for his unconventional and innovative reimaginings of classical ballet works, will bring “Romeo and Juliet” to surprise Korean fans. It has been five years since his company last performed “Swan Lake” in Korea in 2019.Bourne’s ballet, premiered in 2019 by New Adventures, explores themes of love, loss and identity. His modern rendition of Shakespeare’s classic is set in the Verona Institute — a fictional place where young people are incarcerated. Within the stark walls of the institute segregating males and females, Romeo, a rebellious newcomer, and Juliet, a brilliant teen yearning for freedom, find solace in each other despite the watchful eyes of the authorities. He said, as most stories he reinterprets are very much loved, he tries to give people all the feelings and events that they expect from that story but just differently. His past productions, including the all-male “Swan Lake” and the vampire-inspired “Sleeping Beauty,” have garnered critical acclaim for their innovative storytelling and captivating performances.“I don’t see the point of just doing tame versions of things all the time. It’s dull for the audiences too. I think audiences want to be challenged a little and to have some surprises along the way,” Bourne said during a recent email interview with The Korea Times, raising expectations for his upcoming show.”Romeo and Juliet” has been done by taking the Shakespeare out of Shakespeare in a dance production, he says. “As I’m working in non-verbal storytelling, the Shakespeare in a way has already gone. I mean the words of Shakespeare, the story is still there somewhat, but it did make me very brave about changing the piece into something that was very much this new adventures version of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’”

Based on Sergei Prokofiev’s (1891-1953) incredible ballet score, he created a project that focused on both young dancers and young creatives in other fields. “To make this ultimate first-love story about young people, listening to what they had to say and to be inspired by their talents and their particular viewpoint. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ [is] for, and about, a new generation,” he said.To this end, Bourne cast mostly young dancers at the start of their careers. “I wanted to work with young people and to really listen to what was important to them. I wanted that fresh approach and the energy and insight into today’s world that only young people can bring.” His work explores issues faced by the younger generation, such as drug trauma, depression, abuse and sexual identity, which may come as another big surprise for conventional ballet fans.“Some people can be surprised to see these issues portrayed in a dance production. Subjects such as these are regularly explored in film, TV drama and plays. It’s true that, at times, our Romeo and Juliet is not an easy watch, particularly around Juliet’s harrowing story, but I do feel that it’s important to face the realities of the story we are telling and its tragic outcome,” he said, adding that he is proud that they could tackle these issues in the show.”It will come as no surprise that our story does not end well. It is ugly, bloody, messy and raw, but no less gut-wrenchingly heart-breaking than any version of this story, perhaps even more so.”The choreographer’s favorite scene is the “balcony duet” which includes the “longest-ever kiss” as it is the first moment his characters are truly free to express their genuine selves.“When young people fall in love, it is very lusty and they cannot keep their hands off each other. I wanted to capture that youthful excitement so that the audiences remember what it was like for them as teenagers to fall in love for the first time,” he said.“It’s awkward at times, uninhibited, full of the excitement of exploration and discovery. Rather than the usual sweet peck on the cheek or lips, we set ourselves the choreographically challenging task of creating the longest ever continuous kiss in dance history! Locked in a moment that neither of them wants to end.”Bourne’s modern ballet “Romeo and Juliet” will be staged at LG 카지노사이트킹 Arts Center from May 8 to 19.

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