Romeo and Juliet Roundup

The event? A marathon of Romeos and Juliets at Covent Garden. The challenge? To see almost every cast combination available. The result? A ballet with the feel of one of those great cinematic experiences you just want to prolong. And so for our Roundup this time we decided to match each of these performances to the narrative style of a movie director we admire. If you are as obsessed about ballet as we are or if you are a film buff and would like to explore ballet, here’s an opportunity to choose your perfect “Romeo and Juliet movie”:

Alina Cojocaru + Johan Kobborg = Martin Scorsese circa The Age of Innocence

Yes, it’s no big secret we love this partnership and we have written more extensively about their Romeo and Juliet here. Their interpretation of  the ballet is full of the ingredients used by Scorsese in adapting this lavish Romantic piece to the big screen: opulent decors, plenty of choreographic details. A rich emotional experience. Highly dramatic. All the ingredients for a memorable evening at the theatre. Kleenex a must.

Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg in Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet. Photograph by Elliott Franks ©

Edward Watson + Leanne Benjamin = Tim Burton circa Big Fish

Ed and Leanne are the ones to watch if you are drawn to an extra dose of darkness and focus on characters divided between two irreconcilable worlds. There are plenty of quirky signature moves (such as Ed’s stretchy arabesques and swirling turns on attitude which make the most of his long limbs) and an edgy, more unconventional quality to the way they portray their characters as compared to other casts but – at the same time – this is what makes their performances so personal and so deeply touching. More on their Romeo and Juliet here.

Thiago Soares + Marianela Nuñez = Richard Linklater circa Before Sunrise

We admit we’re cheating with our choice of movie director here as we know that this couple is partial to Linkater. But we can definitely see parallels between the underlying chemistry of this Romeo, this Juliet and Ethan Hawke‘s Jessie with Julie Delpy‘s Celine. They’re like  old souls who keep running into each other throughout their lifetimes. Nuñez’s last gasp for breath is one of hope as she knows her Romeo will be waiting for her in a different era… And don’t forget that Jessie and Celine had a second chance in Before Sunset.

Marianela Nuñez as Juliet and Thiago Soares as Romeo. Photo: Dee Conway / ROH ©

Edward Watson + Mara Galeazzi = Sofia Coppola circa The Virgin Suicides

Another day, another Juliet for Watson, here as Romeo replacement for the injured Federico Bonelli. This pair has a keen eye for aesthetics and storytelling like in Sofia Coppola’s evocative movies, brimming with details you never get to see anywhere else (anyone spotted those Manolo Blahniks on Marie Antoinette?). Their 3rd act reads like a tale with a twist, the tragedy magnified by Watson & Galeazzi’s chemistry and their knack for keeping still waters running deep and then, at the exact right time, delivering a mega punch of overflowing emotions.

Steven McRae + Roberta Marquez = Cameron Crowe circa Almost Famous or Say Anything

Fresh, loud, passionate, wearing its heart on its sleeve, fast, dizzy-with-passion, desperate with grief. This partnership has the kind of roller coaster emotional intensity you get in Crowe’s best movies about our fast moving generation X. It’s not just Steven and his technical fireworks that so appropriately weave a picture of a young boy in love. He has Roberta’s very natural, technically flawless Juliet matching him every step of the way. We could almost hear her accelerated heartbeats as she first laid eyes on her Romeo.

Tamara Rojo + Rupert Pennefather = Robert Altman circa Gosford Park

Injury to each of their partners brought Tamara and Rupert together in this ballet. They have been a successful partnership in 18th century classics like Giselle, La Sylphide and The Sleeping Beauty but here in Romeo and Juliet they don’t seem as ideally matched. Rupert’s Romeo has a very British gracefulness, with clean lines and a poetic aura, say, the dancing equivalent of Jeremy Northam while Tamara is a more hot blooded, headlong Juliet à la Salma Hayek. And we can’t imagine Northam and Hayek together in a Romantic movie. Having said that, seemingly impossible pairings have happened in Altman’s movies before. Has anyone ever seen Dr. T and the Women?


Likes ballets that taste like 85% cocoa: pure, extra bitter, dark or intense. Her favorites are La Sylphide, Manon, Mayerling, Ondine, Symphonic Variations and McGregor's Chroma. A self-confessed Alexei Ratmansky devotee, she chases his ballets around the globe. Non ballet: literature, theatre, opera, rock, art, food, travel, fashion, translating and interpreting.

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