Benjamin Millepied offers a judicious reinterpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" with his LA Dance Project

Benjamin Millepied offers a judicious reinterpretation of “Romeo and Juliet” with his LA Dance Project

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So is it a Romeo and Romeo, a Juliet and Juliet, or a Romeo and Juliet? Thursday, July 28, it is the first version of his show, on the roaring music of Prokofiev, that Benjamin Millepied has chosen to present in the Ancient Theater of Fourvière, in Lyon. By deciding to reshuffle the cards of the indestructible ballet imagined after Shakespeare’s play, the choreographer had the idea, as judicious as it is catchy, of proposing three possibilities for the poster alternately. And it works. It escapes the trap of the umpteenth re-reading of an arch-reviewed work, from Rudolf Nureyev to Angelin Preljocaj, by making you want to see the other two casts.

The other advantage of this production by the LA Dance Project, Millepied’s American company, is the video produced live with the complicity of Olivier Simola. If the stage is empty, simply surmounted by a screen, it is to better accommodate the images taken from all angles of the fourteen dancers. Plunging in for a kaleidoscopic vision of the teeming choreography, backstage-style, steadicamer Trevor Tweeten’s camera flies after the action. The duets in particular, the most intimate of which between the two lovers (David Adrian Freeland Jr and Mario Gonzalez) takes place in the ruins of Fourvière, benefit from this pursuit. Nothing wildly original, however, in this invitation to cinema through dance, as it has become so commonplace on the sets. But the ping-pong of shots, in particular close-ups, which skim the skin of the gestures, fills the viewer who is ever more accustomed to a fragmented reality.

Whirling race

This ballet increased on one side is tightened on another: that of the scenario. In one hour and sixteen minutes, Benjamin Millepied settles the affair of the two lovers, who commit suicide one after the other. Cliché imagery disappears. However, some links seem to be missing so that the enfilade of situations can be read with clarity. Fortunately, the main characters of this male version, including Tybalt (Vinicius Silva) and Mercutio (Shu Kinouchi) are easily identifiable, even caught up in the group paintings, where the women stand out too little.

Does Prokofiev’s rhythmic, feverish and suggestive music explain the classical structure and writing, here, of Millepied? His flammable dance does not resist the swirls and accelerations of the composer. Light and bouncy, twisted and swinging à la Robbins, always whimsical in her moods, she tumbles quickly, like throwing and relaunching a spinning top. This whirlwind race leaves the narration a little flat, fraying, in passing, the acting of the interpreters and the tragic harshness of the story.

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