Mats Ek’s ‘Juliet and Romeo’, Sadler’s Wells, 26 September 2014

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A ‘tour de force’. A powerhouse of energy and strength . Youthful, humourous and lyrical. Ek does not concentrate on beauty but states,
‘There is a beauty that is not pretty’. Not to speak in riddles, his beauty lies in his sensitivity to emotion, in the truth of what is portrayed.This cast of the Royal Swedish Ballet was very accomplished, featuring Mariko Kida as ‘Juliet’ , Anthony Lomuljo as ‘Romeo’ , Jerome Marchand as ‘Mercutio’, Dario Ivanova as ‘Rosaline’.

Mats Ek created his ‘Juliet’ for Mariko Kida and his ‘Romeo’ for Anthony Lomuliijo

You will have noticed that Mats Ek decided to use the music of Tchaikovsky (rather than Prokofiev’s score) from which he chose selections which were adapted and arranged by Anders Hogstedt. The resulting effect needed more quiet shading and brought up the question of whether it is wise to use Tchaikovsky in this way, but the boldness of ‘what you got’ demanded almost continuous movement. The story- line was carried entirely through dance, not relying on props, sets or mime. Thus, the choreography was notable for its consistency of vision and for its intensity. There were moments which were reminiscent of Martha Graham, such as the opening group dance of Juliet’s ball.


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The simplicity of the set’s three movable walls with their multiple uses, also reminded me of Graham’s minimalist designer, Isamu Noguchi. In this clip, notice the set:

This is the earliest version from 1944 with Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins and Merce Cunningham:

Sylvie Guillem in Mats Ek’s ‘Smoke’:

Mats Ek was born in 1945 in Sweden to Anders Ek, a famous Swedish actor and Birgit Cullberg, choreographer and artistic director for the Cullberg Ballet. In 1962 or 1963, he studied dance briefly with Donya Feuer in Stockhom. Feuer came to Sweden from New York to take up a position at that time as choreographer and later, director of the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden. Eks went on to become a theatre student in Norrkoping. From 1966-73, he was stage director and assistant at the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden and the Marionette Theatre in Stockholm. In 1972, he re-established his links with dance and in 1973, he joined the Cullberg Ballet. He created ‘Smoke’ in 1995.

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