I suspect the Chronicle may get some mail about my thoughts on the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet”:

“Let’s be clear: The new “Romeo and Juliet” that Moscow’s storied Bolshoi Ballet brought to Cal Performances on Wednesday night is not bad because it trades pointe shoes and tutus for tuxedos and negligees. It is not bloodless and unaffecting because it showcases a 228-year-old company of finely trained classicists — scandal! — doing the bump and grind.

And it was not the worst idea to tap noted British theater director Declan Donnellan to inject some contemporary daring into a troupe long isolated by the Iron Curtain and stagnated by a repertory too heavy on former leader Yuri Grigorovich’s works.”

This “R&J” isn’t offensive, I go on to say–the choreography is simply too thin:

“Donnellan has been matched with a choreographer too inexperienced to do the job. Radu Poklitaru, a former Bolshoi dancer, aims for the fluency and frankness of European dance theater but comes up short. Think of the cartoonishness of Sweden’s Mats Ek mixed with the limb-flailing aggression of France’s Angelin Preljocaj — but sans the structural sophistication.”

But the audience, as I note in the review, offered a friendly ovation. I suspect last night’s non-gala crowd might have responded differently.

Voice of Dance’s Allan Ulrich had a strong reaction as well:

“Have Shakespeare?s doomed young lovers from Renaissance Verona ever found themselves trapped in a sillier framework than that imported by Moscow?s Bolshoi Ballet, which Wednesday evening (Nov. 3) brought a whiff of a new era to Berkeley?s Zellerbach Hall, the opening of a five-day Cal Performances run? After Thursday, this modern-dress Romeo and Juliet vanishes from the boards here, to be replaced by the more conventional Raymonda, so this foolish, unmusical and often incoherent project may be soon a matter of ancient history.”

And reminds Bay Area ballet lovers of a sad bit of casting news regarding Maria Alexandrova:

“Alexandrova did what was required and showed us sparks from an incendiary stage personality; this, alas, was her only scheduled performance during the Berkeley run.”

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