Miami City Ballet
Romeo and Juliet
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
March 25–27, 2011
Reviewed by Guillermo Perez
Carlos Guerra and Jennifer Kronenberg in Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. Photo ©Kyle Froman. Courtesy MCB.
Tragedy called for celebration in Miami City Ballet’s plush production of John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, a first for the company in its 25th anniversary season. The austere stone architecture of Verona, as well as its denizens’ array of outfits, announced the work’s noble pedigree. (Susan Benson designed the costumes, originally for National Ballet of Canada.) And, under Gary Sheldon’s baton, the orchestra poured forth the riches of Prokofiev’s story-tailored score. The show’s greatest fortune, however, lay in the opening-night cast.
It’s easy to imagine that married couple Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra brought the special chemistry of their personal lives into the leads. What became clear throughout three acts was their keen dedication to the demands of stagecraft, as they enlivened, in adroit dancing and persuasive acting, a portrayal of the doomed lovers. In the early scenes with her mother and nurse (Elizabeth Keller), Kronenberg established the playfulness and impatience of a teenager. She went on adding brushstrokes of desire and desperation as the drama flared. Snatching heart-to-heart moments with Romeo at the Capulet ball, she turned bourrées toward and away from him into a course of attraction and hesitation. Soon she yielded to the delight of walking on air, shored up in her lover’s arms—making sure to abide by studied steps anytime Paris (Yann Trividic), her pesky fiancé, intruded. Her joy in high lifts and surrender in dives prevailed during the balcony scene. Saturated emotions seized her next to the conjugal bed as dawn conspired to steal love’s treasure.
Among his cohorts, Guerra’s Romeo displayed enough spirit, his tours en l’air signaling self-involved bravado. Opening his body toward Juliet, he found true realization in enthrallment, his moves traveling with purpose.
Outside these intimacies, rowdiness and splendor unfolded. The courtly dances at the Capulet palazzo, in debt to Leonid Lavrovsky’s version for the Bolshoi, at once scintillated and steamrolled in the side-to-side sweeps of a social order that could drag anyone out-of-step under it. In the Act II carnival, rollicking gypsies and street performers brought voluptuousness and mischief. Here, representing ragazzi gone wild, corps member Kleber Rebello gained status as Mercutio, firing off acrobatics and eccentric gestures—whether with the mockery of a buffoon or a cavalier’s flair. Such a lifeforce could only be stilled by Tybalt, embodied by Isanusi García Rodríguez, haughtiness in his backbone and lethal in strides. After Romeo took revenge, Callie Manning’s Lady Capulet grieved for the murdered Tybalt in a paroxysm of pain and outrage.
Some dramatic energy dissipated in Act III, where the lily dance of the maids of honor, for example, was more of a distraction than a build-up to the pathos of Juliet’s inert body. No matter. The otherworldly beauty of this ballet had already delivered a grand canvas of worldly pleasure and woe.