The reviews were accurate: this performance sparkled.

Jean-Christophe Maillot's choreographic interpretation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet updates the classic play in a way Bill Shakespeare never would have envisioned it, all while mixing a little regional flavour which could have been borrowed from Giovanni Boccacio's The Decameron and which is certainly appropriate to Verona.

Maillot's choreography combines neatly with the breadth of the Pacific Northwest Ballet company to produce a spectacular opening to the 2009-2010 PNB season. Lucien Postlewaite and Carla Körbes filled the title roles and captured the joy, the angst, and the sheer tumultuous lust of teen romance in a way which would have scandalized the patrons of the Globe Theatre. Their youthful investigation of les affaires de couer is not the only romantic subtext, as Juliette's protective éminence grise Tybalt (played in this performance by Batkhurel Bold) has a clear attachment to Lady Capulet (Ariana Lallone), and young Juliette's groom-elect Paris (Stanko Milov) shows more of an attraction- and perhaps even a requited one, after the passing of Tybalt- for Lady Capulet than for her daughter.

Maillot's storyline veers off the Shakespearean base almost immediately, when the character of Friar Laurence (Karel Cruz) appears when the curtain arises to establish himself as both the key figure in the tragedy as well as the unfortunate soul who ultimately becomes the cause of it although intending to end the ceaseless feuding between Montagues and Capulets through organizing the interplay between the young lovers. We see the Friar trapped between his two acolytes- another Maillot addition- between good and evil, between action and inaction, between being the peacemaker and remaining behind the scenes. In his opening manipulation of his two acolytes, we see a leitmotiv emerge which seems to symbolize Roméo and Juliette- a sinuous joining and separating of upright forearms.

The balance of the first scene follows the familiar storyline, setting the stage for the fatal fight between Mercutio and Tybalt, leading to Roméo's avenging his cousin in the final scene of the second act.

The nurse (Carrie Imler) provides a touch of farce in her first appearance, chivvying the young Juliette about in the second scene, as well as being the counterpoint to Lady Capulet's appearance when the mother comes to inform her daughter of her impending engagement although it is clear that the preparations have been underway for some time, as Juliette and the Nurse interact regarding Juliette's gown for the ball.

Where the Capulets appear at the ball, they are attired in blacks, greys and silver, rust, copper, bronze; but Juliette stands alone, clad in gold in Jérôme Kaplan's costuming. The Montagues and their retinue- led by Mercutio and Benvolio- are in whites, ivory, cream and bone. The object of Roméo's affections is at first Rosaline (Lesley Rausch), but she quickly distances herself, and leads to Juliette first taking notice of the young man from her family's rivals.

The story adheres largely to the traditional story-line for the remainder of the ballet and powerfully conveys the story through its choreography as the corps deftly weaves both warp and weft of the cloth of the play underscored by the sweeping, majestic score penned by Sergei Prokofiev.

This marks the second time that the Pacific Northwest Ballet company under Peter Boal has staged Roméo et Juliette, the first coming in January 2008. Although well received at its initial presentation in Seattle, this staging far outstripped the first, and sets expectations that this will be a most memorable season of ballet in the Emerald City.

The next repertory program on the schedule, Director's Choice, run 5-15 November, and is comprised of a pair of works familiar to the company- Jerome Robbins' West Side Story Suite and Mario Goecke's Mopey- a new acquisition in Jiri Kylian's Petit Mort and a world premiere choreographed by Val Caniparoli to Alexander Glazunov's The Seasons. Subscription and ticket information for upcoming shows is available at the Pacific Northwest Ballet website,, or by telephone at 206.441.2424


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