English National Ballet | Romeo and Juliet in the Round

Last night something completely wonderful happened. I am by no means a dance critic and therefore the thought of writing a some kind of review would be irrelevant, and any previous attempts have just felt quite stupid. So, therefore I thought I would just write what I know, from the perspective of a ballet idoliser who experiences the odd ‘fan girl’ moment when faced with the fact that Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta are literally metres away.

A night out at the ballet for me, is not just a trip into the city to the theatre. It usually involves booking a couple of days off work, booking advance train tickets (otherwise it costs a fortune) or a three hour drive to High Barnet to get the tube into London, and booking a hotel. So when I finally get there I’m not going to sit and critique the dancers down to every last step. Having a relatively decent knowledge of ballet, this makes me appreciate the dancers even more rather than wanting to critisise their technique or the choreography.

Watching ballet is a treat. Watching English National Ballet is a big treat. Watching Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta is most likely for me, a once in a lifetime experience and a huge treat.

And it was.

We had these tickets booked since Swan Lake in the Round. I was not missing out on seeing this ballet partnership, it’s ballet history in the making. Had I known that Daria Klimentova would be retiring after the run of Romeo and Juliet I would have booked tickets to see her and Vadim too. (As it stands, I did get to watch them last year in the Nutcracker, and it was spectacular).

When it came to last night, it was a dream. Excitement had kicked in properly by yesterday morning and had been brewing for a good few months. I forgot just how close to the stage you are in the Royal Albert Hall, and therefore to your ballet idols. This just enhanced the excitement for the fact that very shortly Carlos Acosta would be right there, dancing. The danseur that is in the recording of La Bayadere (with Rojo/Nunez) that is permanently saved on the Sky + box. The same danseur that brought that amazing RB production of Don Q to life last year. The same danseur that you’ve seen on the big screen during Giselle in January. And most importantly the same person that described his struggle with ballet in No Way Home that you read the other month.

Then he appeared. Carlos Acosta. In fact I was so mesmorised by the fact that Carlos Acosta was right there dancing literally metres away that I completely forgot (only for a bit) that Tamara Rojo would also be making an appearance shortly!
Acosta lived up to all the hype. I don’t want to say expectation because I didn’t have any. He could have walked on and straight off again and I probably would have been happy. But it was better that that. The Montague trio, including Yonah Acosta and Junor Souza was fantastic. Completely cocky, provoking and really mocking the Capulet boys, it’s no wonder that Mercutio gets killed. In contrast the Capulets, were much more serious, and Tybalt was very unforgiving.

The acting in this production is brilliant. This was the first time I have seen Romeo and Juliet, and the first where the acting has been so intense and needed to be so. From both Acostas and Souza to Fabian Reimair’s Tybalt the acting was impressive. James Streeter and Jane Haworth’s Lord and Lady Capulet so captivating. I was blown away.

And I was about to be blown away a little bit more.

Tamara Rojo.
Romeo and Juliet.
Carlos and Tamara right there in front of me, dancing. This. Is. A. Dream. Come. True. I really do feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to watch these two together. And it was amazing. During the balcony scene I didn’t know where to watch. Tamara’s incredible feet, or her face to confirm it is actually Tamara (I know her feet give it away, but..). To be honest, I was ready for the first interval just to calm down from the Rojo/Acosta overload I was experiencing.

Before last night I mentioned a few times in various tweets how I was looking forward to having my heart broken by these two, and, well, they sure did. The scene after Romeo leaves her after the wedding night was incredible, her acting, from young, naive and in love to complete heart break and despair, Tamara Rojo is your ballerina for the job. I never really appreciated the acting skills that go into a ballet until last night. Yeah, I can dance a few steps, am proud of my turn out and balancing skills, but I couldn’t act, never mind dance AND act together. The scene where she visits Friar Laurence is heartbreaking, so much pain, despair, hopelessness and vulnerability, she played it so well.
It only became more heartbreaking (obviously) as the performance went on. The way Acosta threw around Rojo’s (apparently) dead body, desperately trying to wake her, to bring her back to life, to her waking to find him dead. Utterly heartbreaking and moving stuff. It was emotionally draining to watch as an audience member, never mind to be the dancer.

Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta returned to the stage for the curtain-less-curtain-call to a standing ovation. I did have my phone ready to take a couple of pictures of the amazing pair however, I was so blown away by both of them that I too had to stand up to cheer and clap and take in the moment. After all, it was pretty special what I had just witnessed.


And not that she needed to, but Tamara Rojo has just confirmed what I already knew; she’s my ultimate inspirational lady ever, and once again I can’t wait to get back to class next week and put my pointe shoes on.

But first, I need to go and watch something more light-hearted. Some Nutcracker maybe? Early, yes, but less tragic!


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