The American Repertory Ballet (“ARB”) presented the ballet, “Romeo and Juliet,” at Raritan Valley Community College (“RVCC”) on Saturday, March 8. The ballet was choreographed by artistic director Douglas Martin, with music by Sergei Prokofiev to William Shakespeare’s tale of the doomed love of Romeo of Montague and Juliet of Capulet.
Romeo was Joshua Kurtzberg, who cut a dashing figure in his white tights and finely-muscled legs. Juliet was Monica Giragosian, an elegant, yet fragile, girl torn between her love for Romeo and her parents’ desire to make a politically favorable marriage to another. Romeo was believably love-struck at first, growing believably ardent. He was a fine foil to Ms. Giragosian’s playful, then immovable Juliet.
Romeo’s friends were Benvolio (Stephen Campanella), Mercutio (Alexander Dutko), and Balthasar (Marc St.-Pierre). All three friends were well-matched and performed cohesively. All three looked smashing in tights. Mr. Dutko as Mercutio was an especially natural actor and dancer who breathed life and mischief into his role. His death was especially painful to watch, as was Romeo’s heartbreak.
The family feud between the Capulets and the Montagues was said to be based upon the battle between the Guelphs (loyal to the Pope) and the Ghibellines (loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor). The factions dueled for centuries until Emperor Charles V established imperial rule in Italy in 1529. Shakespeare used this clash between the politics of Papal States and secular states in his play. Most of us are familiar with the story, since it was required reading in high schools for many years. The cast listed Romeo’s Benvolio’s and Mercutio’s “Harlots,” which is a term parents might have trouble explaining to their children.
Often distinguished retired dancers play the “character” parts. Here we had the artistic director, Douglas Martin, as Lord Capulet, who persuasively slapped Juliet about her chamber. Mr. Martin had danced for the Joffrey Ballet, and was a leading dancer with ARB until he retired in 2002. In 2010, after budget problems led to restructuring of debt, he became ARB’s new director. Mr. Martin was a strong acting dancer who clearly telegraphed his character.
Trinette Singleton was listed as Lady Capulet. Her name sounded familiar to me, but she did not appear in the program. After an online search, I found out why her name sounded familiar. She also danced with the Joffrey Ballet, and originated the role of Astarte in the Joffrey’s eponymous ballet, which made the cover of “Time” magazine.
The appreciative audience applauded the dancers warmly.
American Repertory Ballet’s Spring 2014 season will also include “Signature Duets” by Trinette Singleton with Gerald Arpino’s classic ballet, “Confetti,” will be presented at Union County’s Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage on March 21 and 22 and in May “Our Town,” at Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick. For more information, visit: www.arballet.org.