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Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

Spanish dance troupe retells a modern 'Romeo and Juliet'

Special to The Japan Times

William Shakespeare's tragedy "Romeo and Juliet," about the fate of a young couple whose rival families in medieval Italy forbid their relationship, has inspired many artists in many fields.

News photo
Romance: Spain's Compania Nacional de Danza dance company will present "Romeo and Juliet" at the Saitama Arts Center on Nov. 22-24. © FERNANDO MARCOS

There was the 1960s stage and screen megahit musical "West Side Story," and in 1996 Leonardo DiCaprio appeared in the postmodern reworking "Romeo + Juliet." In the world of classical ballet, meanwhile, the work — set by numerous choreographers to Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev's dramatic and majestic music — continues to haunt and fascinate as it has for generations.

This month, at the Saitama Arts Center, audiences have a chance to enjoy a highly acclaimed contemporary dance version of the drama by Compania Nacional de Danza (National Spanish Dance Company), led by 51-year-old Valencian artistic director, dancer and choreographer Nacho Duato, who studied at the Rambert dance school in London in the '70s. Since then, Duato has trained at top dance companies all over the world, including at Maurice Bejart's Mudra School in Brussels, Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater (ADT) in New York and the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. Then, after he was invited to the Nederland Dance Theater (NDT) in 1980, Duato's talent really blossomed.

Now recognized of one of the world's leading choreographers in contemporary dance, Duato has worked with several companies, among them the NDT and ADT, the Australian Ballet, the Royal Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

In a recent interview for a Japanese magazine, Duato said he was inspired to create this work by Prokofiev's music, which he believes goes to the heart of Shakespeare's masterpiece, resulting in one of the greatest of all ballet scores. Here, he adds his own aesthetic staging.

"Romeo and Juliet" runs Nov. 22-24 at the Saitama Arts Center, an eight-minute walk from JR Yonohonmachi Station on the Saikyo Line. It then plays Nov. 29 at Biwako Hall in Shiga Prefecture ([077] 523-7136). For more details, call Saitama Arts Foundation at (048) 858-5511 or visit www.saf.or.jp

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