Grand Design

Grand Design

The Colorado Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is a spectacle to behold. From the stunning sets to the live orchestra to the flood of accomplished dancers, all under the roof of the magnificent Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the combination of visual and aural artistic delights is almost overwhelming. There is a special power to live music, as is well known, but if you have not experienced the Colorado Ballet Orchestra as the Colorado Ballet performs, there is something left for you to discover.

As seen on the evening of Feb. 5, 2022, Romeo and Juliet is a thoroughly polished presentation that makes excellent use of its large and talented cast to simulate the atmosphere of a vibrant community. This is enjoyable for the audience, but also necessary to convey the fact that what happens to the titular characters affects everyone. The attention to details that could be considered throwaway is also effective; it lends verisimilitude.

Dana Benton & Yosvani Ramos, Photo credit Mike Watson

Principal Dana Benton, celebrating her 20th +1 season with the company, portrays Juliet’s swift and forced maturation with care and verve. First, she is a naive and uncertain girl thrust upon Paris by her parents. Then she meets Romeo and tastes heady young love as well as burgeoning desire. She is, however, unshakeable in her innocent conviction that love and marriage coincide, resulting in her nearly immediate– and legitimate– union with Romeo.

After their wedding night, Juliet must summon the courage to defy her parents’ now-impossible edict to marry another. When she is thwarted still, she must be even braver and self-administer the poison that will bring her close enough to death to escape that fate. And when confronted with an untenable end to her efforts, the death of her beloved Romeo, she makes the most final decision possible and ends her own life.

As Romeo, Yosvani Ramos is effervescent, his energy warm and light. Though a privileged and callow youth, this darling of the marketplace seems a kind-hearted person who is inclined to fairness and given to love. The mix of accidents and intention that make up the story punish Romeo particularly; the results of his attempts at peaceful intervention and exercise of agency are fatal, and he misses his happy ending by minutes.

Artists of Colorado Ballet, Photo credit Mike Watson

That herald of both comedy and tragedy, Mercutio, is a rich role and an audience favorite. Kevin Gaël Thomas embraces this, and is an anchor of the performance’s success. Maria Mosina, enduring company principal and now Ballet Master, graces us with an impassioned turn as Lady Capulet. Ariel McCarty also shines, here as a self-possessed Harlot.

While it is true that Romeo and Juliet is a tragic story about love and death, it is also about life and beauty. It is only tragic in the end because it is so full of wonderful possibilities at the beginning. Romeo and Juliet are symbols of their families’ hopes and futures, and by extension the city’s. They are also young people in love. What they could become, for themselves and for peace in their home, is so clear. It should be just as evident why that simple conclusion never came to be.

Jane E. Werle
Writer & Editorial Board

At three months of age Jane E. Werle, unable to protest, was removed from Loveland, Colorado by her well-meaning parents. In 2004 she was able to rectify this error when she relocated from Massachusetts to Boulder for graduate school. One M.F.A. and a husband later, Jane works to further the arts in the Front Range as a writer (reviewer, interviewer, curator) and enthusiast (no-shame, first-on-the-floor amateur– despite some training– dancer). Jane is also a longtime nanny and a visual artist, taking one of these very seriously and the other as a growth experience. Every child she’s cared for has experienced some form of the SDP: Spontaneous Dance Party.