What was the process like to create this ballet?
I knew it would be a monumental task to create a ballet of this size, so I started early, back in August, and squeezed in rehearsals whenever I could get anyone available so that I could feel like I was starting to cross things off the list. It helped that I had already created the balcony pas de deux in 2020 for our “Eternal Desire” program. I think that making that pas de deux on Yuka Oba-Muschiana, and Josué Justiz gave me the confidence to create the full ballet. Those two took to the scene and the roles so easily that it was almost a foregone conclusion that we’d do the full ballet one day!
I mapped out the three acts and listed each scene. I read the play and discussed all the production elements with my wife, Cindy, who served as my choreographic assistant. I listened to the music constantly (even my kids know it well now!) Dawnell Dryja, our ballet master, would help arrange the rehearsal schedule and work with me to iron out the logistics of casting and costumes, along with our wardrobe manager Ron Altman, and also learn all the steps and run rehearsals. John Varineau, conductor, would meet with me, and we’d go through the score scene by scene and talk about which repeats we would or would not take and what tempos were desirable.
And then it just came down to working with the dancers in the studio, creating the steps, the blocking, and the acting, and fitting it to the music. I am so grateful to all of the staff who helped me get this production off the ground, but also to all the dancers, without whom none of this would have been possible. They are indeed the heart of a dance company, and I was so pleased with their willingness to assist in creating this production. It was a fulfilling journey to bring this story to life, and I hope everyone will be inspired by the journey of Romeo and Juliet, who strive for nothing more than to be able to love each other.