What’s in a name?
Now on their second run of the production, Calgary-based dance company Decidedly Jazz Danceworks will bring their adapted version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to the stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre this November.
Originally performed in 2017, Juliet and Romeo is a dance-based production from the thirty five-year-old company, focusing on Juliet’s story rather than that of Romeo’s. It’s dance-based, but it still remains within the theatre world and the production adds a jazz concert to boot, with live music from the Nick Fraser Ensemble. Juliet and Romeo flips the original story on it’s head and offers audiences an alternative and feminist perspective of the classic story.
Juliet and Romeo was originally adapted and narrated by Cory Bowles (Trailer Park Boys), but for the 2019 run of the performance, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks [DJD] opted for one of their full-time dancers employed with the company, Natasha Korney, to narrate the story.
“This production is completely different from the 2017 version,” Artistic Director and choreographer Kimberly Cooper said. “Natasha has never done anything like this before and she is really rocking it. When she reads it, it resonates in a different way than if a male narrated – plus she dances and is just unbelievable.”
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
In Juliet and Romeo, one of the major things about the production is that there is not one single Juliet or Romeo, or for that matter, no single Mercutio, Tybalt and so on. While familiar, the production offers a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s tale of a romance-gone-wrong, offering seductive pockets that are both current and classic, while making audiences think on their toes as they delight in the dancer’s abilities to seamlessly change from character to character.
“The characters change throughout. The characters are played by different people at different times in the show,” explained Cooper.
“This cast of dancers are all really spectacular and it was really interesting for me as a choreographer see it shift through different people over the years. I guess another way to look at is that to think that we are all just like Romeo and Juliet a little bit.”
How silver-sweet sounds lovers’ tongues by night. Like softest music to attending ears!
For Juliet and Romeo, DJD contracted the Nick Fraser Ensemble to perform live music for the dance troupe. The ensemble, with Fraser on drums, Carson Reubling on trombone, Rob Clutton on bass and Jeremy Gignoux on violin, provide a soundtrack to the dance piece.
“It’s interesting. It’s beautiful. It’s groovy. It’s contemporary jazz. There’s a rare combination of instruments creating a really inspiring soundtrack for the dancers. It’s catchy and watching from the audience I’ve noticed the audiences tapping their feet and grooving along to the band as they watch the performance. I’m very proud of this work. I think it’s very beautiful and I’m very excited to bring it to you.”
Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constantly. Then your love would also change.
Cooper also explained that Juliet and Romeo is the perfect production for those who are unfamiliar or intimidated with the world of dance-based theatre, due to the familiarity with the famous subject matter.
“It may sound a bit confusing, but it’s a good a good starter piece if you don’t know dance, because it’s very accessible,” said Cooper. “If you have seen other versions of the play, it will be interesting for you to see another take on it. It just shines a light on the story in a different way. We didn’t make up anything up, all of what we do exists in the play, it’s just that we usually focus on Romeo and his journey.”
These violent delights have violent ends.