'Romeo and Juliet' brings Ukrainian flavor to Maryland Theatre stage
Anna Tyutyunyk has been studying ballet since she was four years old. At age eight, she entered a professional ballet school. Today, she tours the world with the National Ballet Theatre of Odessa, Ukraine.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, Tyutyunyk will dance the role of Juliet’s friend in “Romeo and Juliet” at The Maryland Theatre.
“It is the music of Prokofiev and the unique choreography of Garry Sevoyan,” she said. “We have very beautiful costumes and amazing and very strong principal dancers.”
Tyutyunyk spoke by phone with a What’s NXT reporter while on tour traveling to Baltimore, for a performance at the Hippodrome Arts Center.
Sergii Dotsenko will portray Romeo and Olena Dobrianska, Juliet, in the ballet of two acts. The cast of roughly 55 dancers will play out William Shakespeare’s tragic tale of two young lovers and their feuding families.
“In American audiences, I think, everyone knows this story,” Tyutyunyk said, “but when they see this choreography and these amazing dancers and hear this music, it will touch their heart very much. It is a good experience to visit our performance to feel these feelings come alive. It is just great.”
The production opened during September 2019 with a couple performances in the Ukraine before the cast hit the road, she said. The group has been traveling along the East Coast and into Canada as well as some stops in the midwest.
“It is an amazing opportunity to see this country and to dance on these famous stages. I think we are very happy,” she said.
Igor Lerin, managing director of Classical Arts Entertainment Group, directs the production. The choreography is updated yet traditional he said, fully rooted in classical ballet.
“All the dancers are graduated from classical ballet training. Garry Sevoyan’s choreography is classical. Every single thing they do is based on classical 100 percent,” he said.
Most of the dancers have danced in other productions of “Romeo and Juliet” during their careers.
“Of course everybody knows the story and what it’s about, but this production for everybody is new. Everything is new,” Lerin said.
The original ballet in the mid-1930s featured a happy ending contrary to Shakespeare’s story. This created a stir among Soviet cultural officials, and the tragic ending was adopted before its full premiere in 1938.
“This is a story about young love,” Lerin said. “It is (hundreds) of years old. It is the traditional Shakespeare story with the traditional Shakespeare ending.”
Much of the music, too, is familiar to audiences, as Prokofiev reused music from the ballet in three suites for orchestra and as a solo piano work.
“We do not cut any of the music. Our score is the Prokofiev original. It is very important because the music for ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is one of the best scores in all classical music,” Lerin said.
As a young man, Lerin played trombone in a symphony orchestra. He fondly recalls playing movements from “Romeo and Juliet” among his fond memories.
The music and the story along with the choreography create a poignant experience through the ballet.
“In all of our audiences, some of the people are crying after the performance,” Lerin said. “Listen, for example, when I see this performance, and I see it almost every day, I am being in the huge love. All people are the same after the performance. Sometimes they can’t move from the theater because they feel this tragedy.”
Those who attend will be moved, he said.
“You will come to see and you will be the same. I guarantee this very emotion,” Lerin said. “It is an emotional ballet.”
Top photo: The National Ballet Theatre of Odessa, Ukraine, will present “Romeo and Juliet,” set to the music of Sergey Prokofiev and based on William Shakespeare’s timeless tale on Saturday, Feb. 15 at The Maryland Theatre. (Submitted photo)