Guest blogger Danielle Marie Georgiou is a Dance Lecturer at the University of Texas at Arlington where she serves as the Assistant Director of the UT Arlington’s Dance Ensemble. She is also a member of Muscle Memory Dance Theatre – a modern dance collective. Danielle is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas, and her first book, The Politics of State Public Arts Funding, is out now.
It’s the classic tale of two young lovers from feuding families, told in a spit-fire fashion that has you cheering for more blood, laughing along with Mercutio and company, and tapping your toes at the Capulet hoe-down.
I was recently brought in as the choreographer for the “Party Scene” of the Dallas Hub Theater‘s production of Romeo and Juliet. This is the moment when the two lovers meet for the first time. A self-proclaimed Shakespeare freak, I could recite these lines in my sleep; I’ve even performed the balcony scene. Though, the play carries the stigma of being tiresome, even antiquated, director David Lee Kelting‘s version has me mesmerized. His ambiguously modern take places the beloved characters in a stark wooden world that feels a little bit urban and a little bit country. You can almost feel the dusty winds of some barren city holding you down in your seat. And that’s exactly where you want to be. From the very first fight between the Montagues and the Capulets, I could not take my eyes of the stage. It is wonderfully staged, realistically performed, and even has bit of humor injected into the violence.
But as a new member of the production team brought in two days before the preview, I was a little terrified. The party is the most integral moment of the play. Here, their lives are changed forever and their fate sealed. How can these two ever be together when their families despise each other? I wanted to be able to capture the truth of that moment, respect the history of Shakespeare and the influence of Elizabethan morality, but also adapt to David’s vision. Luckily, I understood him completely. He chose the right music, a country-western meets jazzy blues version of Elvis’s “All Shook Up,” a nice use of humor.
My aesthetic when choreographing is to create movement that is human and real. We’re not perfect, not everything can happen on 5,6,7,8. And with being human comes humor. Life is so funny, and we are hilarious creatures who, when given a drink or two or a mask to wear, will do the strangest and most inappropriate things. It’s funny. It should be seen. I’m so lucky that David feels the same way and gave me free rein to create a heel-kicking, box-stepping and butt-grabbing interpretation of this classic party scene. And I have to bow down to the actors who learned the choreography in a day. They were so open and receptive to me coming in. They just dusted off their dancing shoes and did it. No questions asked. They are amazing dancers and actors.
Travis McClung and Rachael Bower, in the title roles, use their youth to capture the innocence and blind infatuation that could drive two teenagers to an untimely death. Joel Frapart plays a quieter, more unassuming and likable Count Paris than most, but it’s a welcomed change. Just as likable is Shawn Gann as Friar Laurence. From his foreshadowing soliloquy about plants and their similarities to humans to his paternal pampering of Romeo, he makes you wish you had your own Friar to call upon. And David Jeremiah brings new life to the flamboyant jokester Mercutio. With his spot-on and quick delivery of the infamous “Queen Mab” speech, his hilarious interpretation of the invocation of Rosaline, and his dedication to his best friend, his death leaves you feeling like you’ve lost yours.
If you were scared to see Shakespeare because you thought it was boring, tiresome or not understandable, the Hub’s version will change your mind. Romeo and Juliet previews tonight at that the Dallas Hub Theatre in Deep Ellum at 7:30 p.m. and runs until August 22.
Click here to purchase tickets, or call 1.877.238.5596.