February 17-19, 2023 at DeVos Performance Hall

Fall in love with Shakespeare’s classic story, Romeo and Juliet, as Grand Rapids Ballet presents World Premiere choreography by Artistic Director James Sofranko, set in Renaissance Verona on the stage at DeVos Performance Hall. Be captivated by the romantic tragedy featuring the famous feuding families, the Montagues and Capulets. The Grand Rapids Symphony performs Prokofiev’s ravishing score as the timeless story comes to life with enthralling sword fighting, and the excitement of young love, all leading toward an emotional end.


Friday, February 17, 2023

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Sunday, February 19, 2023


James Sofranko

James Sofranko

Artistic Director | Choreographer


James Sofranko assumed the position of Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet for the 2018/2019 season after an 18-year career as a soloist with the San Francisco Ballet. He is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and received his dance training at The Harid Conservatory in Florida and later at The Juilliard School in New York City, where he received his BFA in dance.

At San Francisco Ballet, he danced in numerous works and world premieres by choreographers such as Helgi Tomasson, Val Caniparoli, William Forsythe, Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, Alexi Ratmansky, Edwaard Liang, Lar Lubovitch, Wayne Macgregor, Mark Morris, Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, Paul Taylor, Arthur Pita, Stanton Welch, Jorma Elo, Hans Van Manen, Jiri Kylian, John Neumeier, James Kudelka, Lila York, Kenneth Macmillan, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Some of his favorite roles include Mercutio in Tomasson’s Romeo and Juliet, Eros in Mark Morris’ Sylvia, Bugle Boy in Taylor’s Company B, and the second sailor in Robbins’ Fancy Free.

He received an Isadora Duncan award (Izzie) for best performance in 2011 in Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony. James starred in the principal role of Eddie in the Broadway touring company of Movin’ Out, a musical choreographed by Twyla Tharp to the songs of Billy Joel. In 2012 he co-founded DanceFAR (Dance For A Reason), an annual benefit performance and after-party that brings the Bay Area dance community together to support the work of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC).

In 2014, he formed a new contemporary repertory company in San Francisco, SFDanceworks. The company has presented works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Lar Lubovitch, José Limón, Nacho Duato, Christopher Bruce, and world premieres by Penny Saunders, James Graham, Danielle Rowe, Dana Genshaft, and Sofranko himself.

He has created many original choreographic works, including for Grand Rapids Ballet (Two Tangos, Ballade, The Sweet By and By, A Dreamer), the San Francisco Ballet School (Rendezvous, Means to an End, Mozart Symphony), SFDanceworks (Z, Homing), Long Beach Ballet (Brandenberg), and Marin Dance Theater (The Beaten Path). James has also worked as a repetiteur for Yuri Possokhov, resident choreographer for San Francisco Ballet, and has staged his ballets on Cincinnati Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet.

In the two years since assuming the directorship of Grand Rapids Ballet, the company has performed works by some of the most sought after choreographers working today, including Yuri Possokhov, Alejandro Cerrudo, Penny Saunders, Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparoli, Adam Hougland, Danielle Rowe, Nicolas Blanc, and Brian Enos. He also instituted a program entitled Jumpstart which allows new choreographic talent to emerge from within the ranks of the dancers. The company collaborates frequently with other cultural organizations in the city, including with the Grand Rapids Symphony, ArtPrize, Festival of the Arts, DisArt, and performed for the first time ever at the amphitheater at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

James would like to thank his wife Cynthia Sheppard Sofranko for her ongoing support and creative input in all of his work.

Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev



Russian composer and pianist Sergei Prokofiev was born in 1891 in Sontsovka, a small village in Ukraine. Early on, it was clear that he had musical talent. His mother, who was a very good pianist, encouraged him, and taught him to play the piano. Sergei began composing at the age of five. When he got a bit older, he and his mother moved to St. Petersburg, so that he could study music there. After Prokofiev graduated from school, he traveled around Europe to learn more about music. World War I and the Russian Revolution made living and working in Russia very difficult, so Prokofiev left the country in 1918. Paris eventually became his home, but he also spent time in the United States and the Bavarian Alps. But the whole time he was away from Russia, Prokofiev longed for his homeland. In 1936, he made the unusual decision to move back to the Soviet Union. Prokofiev was a master at using music to tell a story. One of his most famous musical stories is Peter and the Wolf, which was written for Russia’s Central Children’s Theatre. You may have seen it performed in school, or on the concert stage. In addition to symphonic music, Prokofiev wrote ballets, operas, and music for films — like Lieutenant Kijé

Joe Sofranko

Joe Sofranko

Fight Choreographer


Joe Sofranko is a writer, director, actor, and fight choreographer based in Ashland, Oregon. After watching his older brother, James, go into dance at a young age in Cincinnati, Joe found his passion in theater, studying at CCM, performing with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and winning the National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center as a high school junior. Joe moved to Los Angeles to attend the USC School of Dramatic Arts, where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting and went on to create, direct, and star in the Hulu mini series, Complete Works. Joe is an Advanced Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors, certified in unarmed, smallsword, broadsword, rapier & dagger, quarterstaff, and sword & shield. He has staged the violence for dozens of productions in Los Angeles at Rogue Machine Theatre, El Portal Theater, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, The Electric Lodge, Hollywood Fringe Festival, Boom Kat Dance Theatre, The Casitas Group, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, as well as over 20 shows at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. As a writer, he has developed and sold television series to FOX and Netflix. He currently works for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.



Please know, DeVos Performance Hall instituted a no bag policy, which includes bags, backpacks, or purses other than those required for medical reasons or diaper bags. Small clutches, up to 12x9x3 will be permitted. Bags in the medical/essential category will be screened in a secondary screening area. The No bag policy reduces contact between guests and security staff by eliminating the need to search these items. This is part of ongoing efforts to promote a contact-free experience. Learn more.

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