Royal Swedish Ballet's Juliet and Romeo

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"Honoring Our Past While Nourishing the Future"

The Royal Swedish Ballet turns one of literature's great love stories into a contemporary tale with Juliet & Romeo.

Royal Swedish Ballet video

With a repertoire including ballets by some of the world's most renowned choreographers, the Royal Swedish Ballet actively commissions works by Swedish choreographers such as Mats Ek, Örjan Andersson, Johan Inger and Alexander Ekman. As part of its 240th anniversary celebration in 2013, Ek created a new full length piece for the company. Ek, a master in reinterpretation of the great classics into contemporary dance says, "All great stories through time must be taken care of so they remain significant in our time."

His new version of the Shakespeare classic, called Juliet & Romeo, "is a romantic story placed in a brutal environment where the conflict between the people and the power as well as the conflict between generations, is portrayed," says Ek. "The set reflects a city in crisis, an urban rough place in grey and black. The costumes are inspired by the Renaissance with a modern twist. Some materials have a metallic look to enhance the theme of war and conflicts."

What is your view on Juliet & Romeo?

Ek: Shakespeare's plays are fantastic, but he often gets into trouble at the end when all threads are to be tied together. This is also the case in the last act of Romeo and Juliet and links it to the immediate presence of dance. Everything in dance happens here and now, there is no yesterday or tomorrow. This is why I had to find my own solution to the pretended death at the end of the play.

So you did not want to end with a romantic death?

Ek: That's a lie we have to get rid of sometime… however it cannot be replaced by a conventional ugliness. I have to find an image showing that death is permanent, not a euphemistic circumstance, yet a shape cherishing the memory of the life that is gone. There is a beauty that is not pretty.

Why Juliet & Romeo?

Ek: It is time to turn things around. Furthermore, one of Shakespeare's first drafts was actually called Juliet and Romeo. In a way we are returning to the source of the story and it also emphasizes that we are, in fact, using the music of Tchaikovsky and not the established score by Prokofiev. Remaining is, of course, the conflict between the young innocent love and the established violence—a tragedy in which love triumphs by succumbing to death.


Dates: June 10 – 12, 2016
Tickets: $29 and up
For tickets and information, visit
or call (714) 556-2787.
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With special underwriting from:
Mary and Richard Cramer

The Center's International Dance Series is made possible by:
Audrey Steele Burnand Endowed Fund for International Dance
The Segerstrom Foundation Endowment for Great Performances

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