Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 2, 2009

Ballet Maribor

Jacob's Pillow, Becket, MA
through July 5, 2009
by Amy Meek

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival's Ballet Maribor's Radio and Juliet demonstrates the Pillow's dedication to promoting international cultural exchange of talented companies. Ballet Maribor, a prominent European performance company from Slovenia, mixes both classical and contemporary ballet styles. Choreographer Edward Clug, takes Shakespeare's universal love story Romeo and Juliet and reinvents it in a refreshing, yet unexpected way. Clug's ballet shows the universality of the themes of love and aggression, adding the possibility of nontraditional perspectives. The audience seess Juliet's thoughts as Romeo dies, and what may have happened if she had lived.

Set to music by Radiohead, this alternative rock band's sound is characterized by its dark quality and heavy use of guitar and electronic instruments. The music provides the ballet with moments of lushness as background for Juliet's desperation, while at other times pulsates with hard-core intensity during the men's group dances. The songs propel the dancers through the story, sometimes in harmony and sometimes in disparity, as they seem to be controlled by the music against their wills.

The troupe is technical and beautiful in its movements. Tijuana Krizman (Juliet) shows her struggle between convention and passion as she alternates with individual, isolated movements and supported movements with the male dancers. She has a clean, fluid style that expresses Juliet's intent as she navigates her own way through the ballet. The men, who alternate playing Romeo, demonstrate the more vigorous and forceful qualities of masculine group behavior in an orderly chaos dancing against the robotic music with spasmodic, yet graceful motions. They stand separate at times, but suddenly come together in a united chorus.

The combination of the superb dancing, mesmerizing choreography, compelling music, and artistic audiovisual effects make Radio and Juliet a unique dance experience. The audience is drawn in and then pushed in multiple directions. The experience forces them to leave familiarity behind and to look at new ideas within the context of Romeo and Juliet, while at the same time never overlooking the timelessness and universal themes of the story.