Photo: Ewa Krasucka
The premiere of Romeo and Juliet by Krzysztof Pastor took place in Warsaw in March 2014. The ballet was produced in cooperation with the famous company Joffrey Ballet from Chicago where it was staged less than two months later. The opinion of American critics were enthusiastic. In fact, one could content oneself with this quote: „Not since Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story has Shakespeare’s tale of the fever of young love, and the insanity of an internally feuding society, found such fresh life, or such stark, unvarnished truth” – wrote Hedy Weiss in „Chicago Sun-Times”. Everyone who knows what position in American culture occupy Bernstein's musical West Side Story inspired by Shakespeare and its legendary film version will appreciate the significance of this statement.
The critics enjoyed Krzysztof Pastor's idea to move Shakespearean characters from the Renaissance Verona to the twentieth-century Italy. The choreographer referred himself to the Vittorio de Sica's neorealism, to the „dolce vita” times but also to the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini. Lawrence Bommer from Stage and Cinema stated that Pastor gave thus Prokofiev the opportunity to protest against Stalin’s tyranny that he never had in 1940.
American press appreciated not only social and political contexts of the performance, but also the choreographic language. „Krzysztof Pastor creates a beautifully passionate rendition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. When we hear the word passion, we are likely to think of romantically or sexually ecstatic experiences. The origin of the word passion, however, comes from Latin pati, which means to suffer. It is this definition of passion that the Joffrey Ballet evokes in order to tell the story of families who forget why they’re fighting in the first place, losing lives in the process” – wrote Anna Dorn.
Nearly at the same time Krzysztof Pastor's Romeo and Juliet was restaged by the Scottish Ballet, with whom Polish choreographer created the ballet in 2008. After the recent shows in London Debra Craine, reviewer of „The Times” stated that „the strong naturalist seam in Pastor's classical choreography allows his dancers the chance to paint their hightened emotions without artifice” while The Telegraph wrote: „Never before has their story been so stark: there are no billowing costumes or romantic gestures from an ivy-strewn balcony. This is a staging so minimal that it gleans every ounce of dramatic impact”. [according to the article by Jacek Marczyński in journal Rzeczpospolita]
Romeo and Juliet returns to the repertoire of the Polish National Ballet as early as in September 2014, right after the holiday break in the Wielki Theatre.
Author of the website of the PNB: Paweł Chynowski, cooperation: Jacek Gnoiński