Romeo and Juliet

Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland

04/02/2022 - 05/02/2022

Production Details

The Classical Collab premieres its first performance, Romeo and Juliet. A contemporary ballet reimagined by Meaghan Rowe with choreography from Meaghan, Amelia Chandulal-Mackay and Jessica Opacic. Audiences can expect to be captivated by the exceptional talents of our Auckland youth dancers who weave together the traditional story of two star crossed lovers and their battle for true love. Our incredible cast come from all over Auckland and have worked together for the first time to bring you this story.

The Classical Colab
Choreographers Meaghan Rowe, Jessica Opacic, and Amelia Chandulal Mackay

Dancers: Abby Walpert, Ava Cairns, Bruce Feng, Christina Zeng, Danielle Watson, Eloise Burgess, Hannah Cahill, Isabel Neal, Kyra Haskins, Lianna Heng, Molly Running, Mulan Riseborough, Nia McDonald, Samuel Boyle, Sian Dillon, Sophie Kate Groen.

Capulets’ corps: Ashlee Hellyer, Charlotte Hollis, Florence MacCulloch, Kaitlyn Barlow- Maiava, Binnie Na, Zara Page, Mia Rajaratnam, Ayawa Sotome, Nicole Wang, Lorraine Wu

Montagues’ corps: Ethan Bygrave, Elodie Hansen, Belle Hartley, Lila Hartley, Summer Li, Stella Oh, Miya Riseborough, Angelique Li- Rossolatos, Flo Tucker, Zach Walpert


Dance , Contemporary dance ,

60 mins

Ambitious rendering of the old classic

Review by 07th Feb 2022

Despite post-pandemic conditions of space seating minimising audience numbers and mask wearing, Romeo and Juliet is bravely set on stage for a two-day season at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Choreographers, Meaghan Rowe, Jessica Opacic, and Amelia Chandulal Mackay bring together a large group of non-professional dancers aged between 9 and 21 years in an ambitious well-workshopped rendering of the old classic. The audience are encouraged to ‘show their appreciation’ as often as they liked, which made for occasional interruptive clapping, and downplays of highly charged or emotional moments.

Described by its choreographers as a contemporary ballet piece, the work pays attention to literal acts of the classical ballet (and possibly ballet audience appreciation custom) and imports parallel feet and a rather wonderful array of upper body expressivity. The costumes designed by Coralie Hale are similarly oriented, soft tulle balletic skirts or tunics, and a glance at gender neutrality with girls in smocks and tights, and one of the males in a pair of wide legged pants – equally flowing. Some of the dancers are in pointe shoes, and some opting for the ease of demi-pointe canvas.

Sophie Kate Groen, dancing Juliet en-pointe, is an elegant equation of a capable and expressive artist with sufficient experience to carry the intensity of her role. While brandishing performance glee as his strength, and a similar equation of experience and expressivity, Bruce Feng who dances Romeo, loses the subtlety of deeply lost young love in large unfinished leaps, and a lack of attention to line. In the romantic duets, the sensitivity expected of his role reappears. All of the dancers show a deep commitment to their dance especially Danielle Watson as the Friar, and Sian Dillon dancing Lady Capulet. Other core dancers, Lianna Heng as Romeo’s friend, Kyra Haskins as Nurse, and Isabel Neal as Paris, are nicely rehearsed and confident in their integration of the sequence of events. The three friends of Juliet –  Molly Running, Eloise Burgess and Christina Zeng deserve a special mention for technique including delicate foot balance and arm extensions.

Interestingly timed with the recent release of Spielberg’s West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet also offers some new orientations. Rather than older adults dominating the work, youthful insights about the ridiculousness, and dangers of rivalry are well played out. Horrific acts of murder, and dual suicide by the two main players need more care in choreographic intention, and forethought in context of the young company they are in. Otherwise, choreographic motifs in the trios and quartets throughout the show play out youthful perspectives about the ways familial relationships become biases, and hatred an unsought for but recognisable outcome. These motifs and the sophisticated selection of classical music accompanying the show, demonstrates that there are clever dance minds at work.


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