Mathilde Froustey, as Juliet, bourrées across the stage as if floating. She is lightness itself, all aflutter, giving body form to her girl-woman moment. She is telling us—or rather she is bringing to life— choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s stamp on this classic story of forbidden love, where dance and gestures simultaneously telegraph internal and external events. This Juliet wants to both swallow the world’s excitement, and run into her nursemaid’s arms for protection, all at once
Fellow lovers of Prokofiev’s famed score for this ballet, may also find Froustey’s dance to oboe and flute solos emerging from the orchestra exquisite. We see the score, as we hear it. How did this talented pre-teen get to be a prima ballerina, you may be wondering. She is so young, so innocent, so fresh-faced in total body!
How perfect also that the clan warfare background that frames the arc of the story is given that most familiar deeper note phrase by the brass and bassoon. While other choreographers choose to allocate the deep scolding notes mainly to Juliet’s father, Tomasson makes it a recurring ensemble takeover of the stage. It is society as a whole that forbids this love, after all. And as the lovers are strung by their first sights of each other it feels more medieval and forbidding than the set. This writer imagines William Shakespeare jumps out from his grave and shouts BRAVO!—it’s just what I had in mind.
San Francisco Ballet @Home Showcases Work by the Troupe’s Artistic Director
In the introduction to the streamed performance, San Francisco Ballet’s Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson explains that he wanted body language and mime to help tell the story. Perhaps we see this touch most in the sword skirmishes, which truly seem to put the choreography into the fight choreography.
For this reviewer, the set was not especially a value-add. At times the coral and red hued costumes gave a richness to the visuals, as did the barber shop pole reminiscent tights paired with a tutu that flared into zebra of a particularly lithe dancing trio, the dancing acrobats. Also, more germane to this particular pandemic moment, the cinematography does adequately convey the dance, but doesn’t give flashes of insight into the staging as one seems to find in other dances on the San Francisco Ballet website. How quickly they have spoiled us!
Don’t miss the intermissions! These intermission interviews with dancers and the fight choreographer are thoroughly engaging, in contrast, and help remind of the total artistry and dedication every performer and creative team member has brought to make this a standout experience.
SF Ballet @HOME provides ongoing programming that changes weekly—with this performance unfortunately no longer available.
All streamed performances are free but donations are encouraged.
You can stream a performance of this Romeo and Juliet ballet with a different SF Ballet cast on the Lincoln Center at Home website.
Images courtesy of San Francisco Ballet
Love picture-rich dance reviews? Then don’t miss the Picture This Post feature- CHOREOGRAPHERS’ EYES: DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE
About the Author:
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.