Joffrey Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is a must see—says this Neanderthal

Joffrey Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is a must see—says this Neanderthal
Joffrey Ballet's Romeo and Juliet

Saturday night, my wife Amy and I went to see Joffrey Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet.  One word describes it: Fantastic.

I am going well outside my comfort zone as I am certainly NOT a ballet critic.  But, I enjoyed it so much, I thought it appropriate to write a few words about it.   Starting at the end, the performance received a richly deserved standing ovation.  The depth of emotion displayed through dance, remember, no spoken words, was incredible.  Amy was moved to tears at the end of the performance and I have to admit, there were times I caught myself holding my breath.   The ballet was performed in three Acts (with one intermission) with tension growing throughout.   The first act was good, the second act was excellent while the third was amazing.     

Three performances particularly stood out: Rory Hohenstein as Romeo, Christine Rocas as Juliet, and Yoshihisa Arai as Mercutio.  They were all superb.  But to single those dancers out is not fair to all the other performances, which were all great.       

Go see this production!  You live in Chicago.   There are many cultural jewels this city can crow about, the Joffrey Ballet being one of them.  Although my wife and I have subscribed for years and seen several performances, I’ve posted about one: Romeo and Juliet.  It was that bad-ass!   

Since my ability to describe ballet is limited to how “bad-ass” it is, I’ll borrow words written in the Chicagoist:

It’s a striking Romeo & Juliet, full of grace in all the right places with tension and conflict throughout. Fittingly, the most compelling were the fight and death scenes. While somewhat long, the drawn-out scenes often escalated violence to a level unexpected in story ballet. There were some interesting interpretations including a dramatic moment that leaves Juliet standing eerily alone among the still bodies of her community. The scene is repeated later in the piece with much gloom as the alluded deaths become actualized.

As always, the Joffrey cast executed choreography perfectly and with much emotion. To tell such a literary story without any of the well-known words of Shakespeare requires skill, and they are just as much thespians as dancers.


Here’s the thing: I WILL get hazed by my friends for writing about this.  My friends are basically knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.   So, I’ll get the obligatory texts, emails and phone calls making fun of me for this post.  This production was so good, that I’ll gladly take the abuse to tell you how good it was and to implore you to shake your ass down to the Auditorium Theater and see it.

And if my friends are Neanderthals—what does that make me?  And if I liked it… you will too. 

Look, being a knuckle-dragger, I didn’t grow up watching ballet.  But, my fellow Neaderthals can likely understand my introduction to it: Trying to woo a woman. 

My wife is a former dancer.  She loves ballet.  A long time ago, in an attempt to impress my then girlfriend, I purchased tickets to see The Nutcracker.  I figured, at worst, I could close my eyes and listen to the music.  If I could stay awake, I would say I liked it and gain some culture points, of which I was sorely in need. 

As I was trying to impress her, I got tickets that were close to the stage (too close I learned).  As I sat there and watched, I found myself surprised.  I was impressed.  I watched the father, from mid-stage, carry one of the toy soldiers (another dancer) off stage.  Now when he did it, the soldier was perfectly perpendicular to the father and I sat there thinking: that’s a lot of weight that dude just carried off the stage.  And it’s not like carrying off 170 pounds perfectly balanced on a bar, he just carried a dude off stage.  No way I could do that.  Being so close, I could tell how hard all the dancers were working.  My knuckle-dragging self left surprisingly impressed.

Since then, we’ve continued going.  I have loved some things (Victoria Jaiani’s performance at the end of Act One of Giselle is an example) and I’ve frankly had trouble staying awake for some more modern productions.  On the whole, I’ve seen many more things I’ve liked than haven’t. 

This season was by far the best we’ve seen; a great season to be a subscriber.  I wanted to see each production more than once; all were excellent performances.  Of those, Romeo and Juliet was the best.  It is literally breathtaking. 

So, if you have a bit of culture in you, you will want to get down there and see it. 

If you’re not particularly cultured and/or growing your playoff beard, take a few moments and get you and your wife/girlfriend tickets.  It’s the week of Mother’s Day, so take the mother of your children there.  You’ll get culture points!  You and I both know you NEED some! 

Who knows, you may even like it! 

Filed under: Chicagoist


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  • One quick note: I'm not fond of putting "Joffrey Ballet" and Neanderthal in the same sentence.

    Hopefully the post makes obvious I claim to be the uncultured Neanderthal. And if I, Neanderthal, like ballet, even many of my simpleminded brethren may like it as well.

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