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Getting Ready for #RomeO2

by Emilia & Linda on June 17, 2011

Tonight The Royal Ballet begins its three-day residency at London’s O2. This is the first time the Company has set foot on a UK arena and, to mark the occasion, they are fielding an all-star cast to perform in Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. Taking turns as the famous star-crossed lovers are Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo (tonight and Sunday), Edward Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson (Saturday matinée), plus Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg (Saturday evening).

Seats

We dropped by the O2 yesterday to watch a stage rehearsal and follow the Company as they put the finishing touches to their first big scale ballet:

The O2

Three giant screens will ensure audiences experience MacMillan’s choreography at its most cinematic, with movies by the Ballet Boyz to help bridge any stage-to-screen gaps.

Cameras

Having just finished ballet class, Edward Watson & Lauren Cuthbertson were trying out steps. They haven’t danced Romeo & Juliet together since 2004 and are thrilled to be teaming up again. Lauren says: “It’s a dream. Better than we can ever have imagined; it’s really lovely that we had this chance to go full circle because when we first danced it there was chemistry but not really a natural fit, so now we feel like it’s our time to dance well together!”

Ed strikes his signature “HB pencil-drawn” arabesque:

Ed Watson

Ed & “Loz” have recently appeared as very quirky special guests in Bennet Gartside’s latest #RomeO2 video blog. Here’s their version of the “extreme close-up“:

Ed and Loz

The pair had woken up at 6am for a spot in the BBC Breakfast News and still had a full day ahead, including that evening’s general rehearsal. But before “quiet time” Lauren was planning to catch a glimpse of Tamara and Carlos: “I really want to watch [their] rehearsal so I’m going to stay for a bit of Act 1 and nap in the interval. Then I’m going to get something to eat, then hair, make up and go through steps again!”

Watson Romeo

With the stage rehearsal due to start soon, it was time for us to sneak a peek backstage

Ballet gear and costumes

Various ROH departments have set up camp at the O2. Costumes and shoes have been transferred into the building, with stocks of shoe dyes, ribbons, wigs, etc. readily available.

Costumes

Costumes

Storage

Stage management is all set for this afternoon’s rehearsal

Stage Management

Last minute instructions from AD Monica Mason ahead of the full call. Right: Bennet takes the opportunity to gather material for his series of O2 video blogs.

From the wings

Montagues vs. Capulets… Swords at the ready!

Props

Left: Thiago Soares as Tybalt (watch him talk about his role here). Right: Gary Avis as Escalus, the Prince of Verona, shames a Capulet.

Soares as Tybalt and Avis as Escalus

And… action!

Polunin - Main Stage

MacMillan’s Romeo & Juliet had to be adapted for the arena format, so regular ballet audiences will spot a number of tweaks in the traditional production, including the use of video for certain scene transitions. Lauren gave us an example: “There’s a bit where Juliet runs to the altar and it’s her last chance to get the courage to take the potion – but here there is no altar – so little things like that you have to suggest”

Polunin and the harlots

Carlos Acosta’s Romeo works the cape…

Carlos Acosta

… while Elizabeth McGorian’s Lady Capulet sashays her gown

Elizabeth McGorian

Tamara Rojo as Juliet

Tamara Rojo

Romeo with his “buddies” Benvolio (Sergei Polunin) and Mercutio (José Martin)

Romeo and Buddies

The Ball Scene

Juliet: “Dear Paris, aren’t you a tad underdressed for this ball?”

Rupert and Tamara

The lovers meet at the ball

Carlos and Tamara

And this is how their first meeting looks on the giant screens

Screen

Jonathan Watkins

If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

Sergei Polunin

The width of the stage is very impressive. First Soloist Bennet  (aka @Bennet76 on Twitter), who plays Tybalt on Saturday evening, says: “it’s actually housing our set quite well. Initially when we got here we thought ‘this is quite big’, but sometimes doing Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House stage feels quite cramped – especially the ballroom scene so it’s nice that it has been pulled out.”

Sword fight

He thinks all this space will give the fights in Act 2 a different energy “We’re saying to each other ‘chase me!’ Because you have to use that width and then when we’re moving the crowd moves with us, so you have all that scale.”

Lady Capulet's meltdown

Bennet’s clever mashup of “pop and high culture” in his vlogs has drawn the attention of the New York Times. He is feeling “Very excited. Not at all nervous – because we are used to doing this and, partly, because I don’t have to do as much as others – the possibility of performing in front of 12,000 people for me is definitely more exciting than daunting! Maybe I will get more nervous when I see the first night!”

Benn

Carlos and Tamara strike a pose. For a full photo album of the pair in rehearsal see our Facebook gallery.

Acosta and Rojo

Photographer Tristram Kenton snaps Tamara for a newspaper feature

Tristram Kenton photographs Tamara Rojo

Tamara captures the O2′s monumental scale on a quiet moment

Tamara Rojo relaxing

“I think we can run wide and  travel the choreography but as for gestures, the minute they’re not true…  they become a bit more “Russian”, they look overly pronounced. So that’s my opinion. I won’t be understating anything but I won’t be overstating it. What hits people really is the real stuff.” Lauren Cuthbertson (@LondonBallerina) – live from the O2 – on MacMillan’s naturalistic choreography.


Romeo and Juliet runs at The O2 until 19 June 2011. For further information and to book tickets visit the ROH website.

All photos by The Ballet Bag ©

{ 3 trackbacks }

Reviews Round-Up: The Royal Ballet, Romeo And Juliet @ O2 | Londonist
June 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm
RomeO2: never mind the hot dogs
June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker at The O2
August 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm

{ 12 comments }

The Ballet Bag (@theballetbag) June 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm

@londonballerina @Bennet76 @Balletboy09 guys, you’ve been snapped : ) http://bit.ly/lDHQij

Sheri Leblanc (@Sheri_ls) June 17, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Best wishes to The #RoyalBallet’s Romeo & Juliet at The O2. Rehearsal photoblog: http://bit.ly/iU9yaJ via @theballetbag

Balletco (@Balletco) (@Balletco) June 18, 2011 at 6:17 am

nic shots RT @theballetbag: #RomeO2 photoblog – a peek at the #RoyalBallet in rehearsal w Ed & Loz + Carlos & Tamara http://bit.ly/lDHQij

Ashley Cooley (@ashleyecooley) June 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm

A great description & pics of a dancers day RT @gramilano: Great O2 photos from @TheBalletBag: Getting Ready for #RomeO2 http://t.co/nbI5If8

pchan/naomi (@naomip86) June 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Just amazing! RT @theballetbag The Royal #Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet rehearsals at The O2 http://bit.ly/jx3xjO

Anna Merrick June 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Wondeful photos girls and really nice article ! FAB !

Eleanor Robb (@Els_Bells22) June 20, 2011 at 1:43 am

Renewing my Twitter addiction for personal use again. What I would have given to have seen this! Ballet arena-style! http://t.co/4ONQlpx

José Mauricio Ferraz June 20, 2011 at 3:30 am

Fabulous reporting. We enjoyed very much the photos and comments.
Congratulations

Harmer PR (@harmerpr) June 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

Great backstage review and pics of the Romeo & Juliet at @The_O2 by @theballetbag http://els.ec/jjsk4q

Graham Watts (@GWDanceWriter) June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

The sets have gone but @theballetbag ‘s preview of #RomeO2 is still great insight to new phenomenon of Arena ballet – http://bit.ly/lDHQij

Daniel September 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Do you have a book for sale on line.
T k u

Emilia September 12, 2011 at 12:40 am

Hi Daniel,

We don’t have any books currently on offer – but for our own info, what specifically were you looking for in print, is it ballet images?

Thanks,

E.

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