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Ballet Preljocaj: Romeo and Juliet
Choreography: Angelin Preljocaj Music: Sergei Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet
Angelin Preljocaj created the choreography based on Prokofiev’s ballet for the Lyon Opera in 1990. Twenty-five years later the piece was restaged by Ballet Preljocaj, whose creative place of residence is Aix-en-Provence, and has since then toured a range of venues worldwide.
When the piece was created Preljocaj was practically unknown on the international dance scene; the unassertive young choreographer first hesitated to accept Lyon Opera’s commission. It was the essence of Shakespeare’s timeless story that impacted his decision to eventually take up the challenge – the limiting influence of power over one of the most essential individual freedoms, the freedom to love. Being of Albanian descent, Preljocaj is the son of political immigrants to France.
The first bars of Prokofiev’s overture to Romeo and Juliet are soon drowned out by the buzz of the low-flying helicopter. Suddenly, a post-apocalyptic landscape unveils before us, a world ruled by omnipresent militia ordained by the Capulets to control the exploited population, personified by the Montague family. The marked shift in the spatial and temporal dimensions is echoed in the abridged score, and Preljocaj’s radically envisioned choreography. It allows no room for families, for intimacy, but focuses on confrontation between clans fighting for their territory. The creation nevertheless retains Shakespeare’s iconic balcony setting, the scene of ultimate love, bloody clan wars and tragic destiny.