So deep, so far, so close to the audience

"Romeo and Juliet" with the Dance Company and the New Lusatian Philharmonic Orchestra in Görlitz

Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten
Boris Gruhl
This stage space alone by Till Kuhnert holds so many associations with the events surrounding William Shakespeare's tragedy of the tragic love between Romeo and Juliet, set so close in the far distance at the beginning of the 15th century in Verona and Mantua, and which has repeatedly touched people deeply since its first performance around 1595.

. With the premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet, in Brno in 1938, a new, entirely wordless variant of interpretation was added. Even if other tragedies and comedies of Shakespeare, that unknown "country bumpkin from the dirt nest of Stratfort", as Alfred Kerr called him, have inspired composers and choreographers to many danced variants - with Prokofiev's ballet music came the most successful suggestion to date.

Of course, one thinks of the shining examples of authoritative choreographies, Leonid Lavrovsky in 1940 in Leningrad, John Cranko in 1962 in Stuttgart, Kenneth McMillan in 1965 in London, Maurice Béjart in 1966 in Brussels, John Neumeier in 1971 in Frankfurt, or most recently in Dresden Stijn Celis. And now in Görlitz. And now completely different. Another neoclassical variation was not to be expected from the dance company of Dan Pelleg and Marko E. Weigert. And after just in Bratislava an attempt to refresh the rivalries of the street gangs ŕ la "West Side Story" with breakdance, hip-hop and other street dance variants went nowhere, one could be curious.

There is no story of Romeo and Juliet, of the Montagues and the Capulets in Goerlitz, there is no masque, no Father Lorenzo, no wet nurse, no poison, no dagger, no tragic mishap with fatal consequences. There is the music, there is the dance, and in the choreography by Pelleg and Weigert in collaboration with the company, there is no quarter. Time and again, the eleven dancers astonish the audience with downright athletic acrobatics, when the very defenseless situations into which Romeo and Juliet put themselves for the sake of their love are made visible in dangerous situations. In this production there is no clear definition of the roles, it can happen to anyone, each of the dancers can get into the desperate situation of a Romeo, each of the dancers can be a Juliet, the emotions run away with them, dangers and abysses are skipped. Here the focus is on associations and on the audience's imagination.

In the back of the deep stage space the orchestra. Between the musicians and the dance stage, which is brought up to the audience via the orchestra pit, two mighty black surfaces that can be moved up and down like huge, oversized seesaws. There are impressive images in the search for balance, in the struggle against its disturbances. We see the fleeting images of standstill and immediately afterwards the crashes of whole groups and individual dancers, when these moving black surfaces turn into dangerous, steep slopes. It goes up and just as quickly down, the standstill alone, fleeting image associations may also convey, is deadly.

. But there are also the moments of rest, of pause. At the beginning, each on one of the great slopes, separated by a ravine, joined at the end, each laid out, the dresses of a Juliet and a Romeo.

The people have left the constraint of their stories and consistently shed the costumes of Markus Pysall with the historical references to the origin of their stories. Many stories, always in the flash of rapid transience, we have then seen, sometimes felt more than understood, when a riddle of inescapability is already followed by the next. But one motif always returns. The whole company, driven by the music, in powerful jumping steps with high jerked legs, as if it was a matter of kicking in invisible doors or limitations with all force and with the last strength.

. The musical drive of this evening comes from the orchestra. This is a great evening for the New Lausitz Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of its new general music director Andrea Sanguinetti. The reduced orchestral version by Tobias Leppert contains the essential motifs and passages. Whether in the powerful battle scenes, in the tender music of the balcony scene, dramatic or lyrical, the sound of the orchestra is one of unflagging tension and presence.