Sacramento Ballet: Romeo and Juliet

Last Thursday night, Sacramento Ballet staged its opening performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Sacramento Community Center. The fresh Sacramento evening air failed to stay the attendees as they filled the auditorium with a festive but expectant mood.

At the customary signal, attendees scurried to their places and the auditorium came to silence and then darkness. The red velvet theater curtains became the screen for floor-to-ceiling project images of the Capulet and the Montague Families courts of arms. Each projection garnered equal area – a clue that we were about to witness this spirited family rivalry. With this opening, the ballet had begun.

Silence broke with the blast of the opening music. The telltale lighted musician’s stands were not visible. The stage was flanked with two larger-than-life speakers that filled the auditorium with the ballet’s opening sounds. Despite the generosity of the Raley Family support, the economy exerted it presence at the event. I was disappointed by the absence of an orchestra.

The curtains parted to a joyous market scene. My disappointment gently faded as this company’s assiduously told the timeless story of “love at first sight” with exquisite dancing, well-choreographed sword fighting, and dramatic acting.

The ballet’s light moments – the antics of Mercutio –  evoked laughter from the audience. The happy moments of the wedding undoubtedly parted smiles on many women’s faces. And the serious moments transported each attendee to witness a senseless death and eventually unfortunate tragedy. It wasn’t long before the economic peril  - no orchestra  -  faded from my concern.

I had seen this company perform Romeo and Juliet accompanied by an orchestra. Of course, it was great!  But this performance ranks as one of its best as the dancers more than made up for the piped music.

Amanda Peet’s danced a lyrical Juliet. She convincingly displayed the emotions of strong defiance to marriage custom; to complete surrender to love. Her scenes with Romeo: tranquil grace filled with emotion. This veteran dancer is a pleasure to watch as she used body to articulate Juliet.

Stefan Calka danced Romeo. His beautifully sculptured body attested attention to trade. His disciplined dance highlighted o the Juliet character from their stealth observation of each other in the their first scene to the violently passionate expression in their last scene. They were an electric pair full of emotion and of spirit.

As the performance progressed, an opening distraction during the market scene faded to my region of opening night forgiveness. My expectation had been met. The audience voiced its satisfaction with a standing ovation to thunderous applaud. Apparently its expectation had been met also.

This evening was a delightful February gift to Sacramento’s ballet aficionados. And to the newly initiated, this company was a great ambassador.