Ruth Leon recommends… Romeo & Juliet – Royal Ballet

Ruth Leon recommends… Romeo & Juliet – Royal Ballet

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

December 02, 2022

Romeo & Juliet – Royal Ballet

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Ballet.

In this enchanting short film, less than five minutes, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Deborah MacMillan and Kevin O’Hare explore MacMillan’s stunning choreography for Romeo and Juliet’s first pas de deux. His poignant setting of Sergey Prokofiev’s classic score draws out the emotional and psychological intensity of the tale.

The ballet of Romeo and Juliet contains three passionate pas de deux: the lovers’ first meeting, the famous balcony scene and the devastating final tragedy, in which Romeo dances desperately with the lifeless Juliet. The story is set against a wonderful evocation of 16th-century Verona, and includes a bustling marketplace that erupts into a violent sword fight, and a lavish ball held in an elegant mansion.

MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet first arrived at Covent Garden in 1965. Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn took the title roles on the opening night – MacMillan had originally created the work on Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable but Fonteyn and Nureyev were by far the bigger stars. Their performance had a rapturous reception, with 43 curtain calls and almost forty minutes of applause.

The ballet has been at the heart of the Company’s repertory ever since, amassing more than four hundred performances.  The full ballet is available via the Royal Ballet’s new streaming service (

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  • james michael mcgraw says:

    slight correction: there are 4 pas de deux not three. the is the additional bedroom pas de deux not mentioned that is shown in the video