The Korea Herald

ssg
소아쌤

[Herald Interview] Monte-Carlo Ballet's minimalist ‘Romeo and Juliet’ from Maillot

Korean dancer An Jae-young performs as Tybalt

By Hwang Dong-hee

Published : Oct. 11, 2023 - 13:32

    • Link copied

“Romeo and Juliet” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company) “Romeo and Juliet” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company)

The Monte-Carlo Ballet Company, led by the artistic director and choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot, is set to present “Romeo and Juliet” at the Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-gu from Friday to Sunday.

This is the Monaco-based ballet company’s first performance in Korea since their 2019 rendition of “Cinderella.”

Maillot reimagines Shakespeare’s literary masterpiece through the flashbacks experienced by the distraught Friar Laurence as he reflects on how the tragic end of two young lovers came to be.

Jean-Christophe Maillot shows dance movements to dancers in a rehearsal. (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company) Jean-Christophe Maillot shows dance movements to dancers in a rehearsal. (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company)
“Romeo and Juliet” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company) “Romeo and Juliet” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company)

“My goal is make the audience feel the timeless emotions we all have experienced (while reading the classics) as sincerely as possible,” said Maillot in a written interview with The Korea Herald.

"In my ballets, I have a clear desire not to make the choreography into an art form just for demonstration. Especially when reworking (classics), I am concerned on recreating the emotional experience that unite us universally.”

Maillot's “Romeo and Juliet” premiered at the Monte-Carlo Opera in December 1996. The Korean National Ballet performed the Korean premiere of the piece in 2000.

Maillot explained that his scenography is very minimalistic because he seeks realism in the movements of the dancers, which can sometimes be at odds with a certain traditional view of ballet.

The stage design is simple featuring only walls and a floor. Nevertheless, with changes in lighting colors and direction, the stage gains depth and the dancers' movements fill in the empty space more vibrantly.

“I eliminated props and simplified the sets -- there are no poison vials, swords or balconies covered in ivy. (But) this scenography allows me to use the set for choreographic metaphors, responding in an innovative way to what we already know,” he said.

The choreographer said his rendition of the timeless tragedy is unique in its ability to relive the emotions that have left a mark on us.

“Someone once told me about my pas de deux in 'Romeo and Juliet' that 'I don't remember the choreography, but I remember that the two dancers were madly in love, and I too have experienced that feeling.' That's exactly what my dance aims for,” he said.

Korean ballet dancer An Jae-young (center, back) performs during “Romeo and Juliet.” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company) Korean ballet dancer An Jae-young (center, back) performs during “Romeo and Juliet.” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company)
Korean ballet dancer An Jae-young (first to left) performs during “Romeo and Juliet.” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company) Korean ballet dancer An Jae-young (first to left) performs during “Romeo and Juliet.” (Monte-Carlo Ballet Company)

Korean ballet dancer An Jae-young, who joined the Monte-Carlo Ballet Company in 2016, takes on the role of Tybalt.

He was inspired to pursue ballet after seeing the company’s “Romeo and Juliet” at the age of 16, and auditioned for the Monte-Carlo Ballet Company four years later.

“(An) is an important soloist of the ballet company,” said Maillot. “I am deeply attached to this dancer because his journey to joining the Ballets de Monte-Carlo is truly exceptional. I hired him without knowing anything about this story. Jae-yong showed me how my work can impact people.”

The Monte-Carlo Ballet Company will also perform at Gangneung Arts Center, in Gangwon Province, on Oct. 18.