Dance as Visual Art: I Love Tamara Rojo & Romeo and Juliet for the Masses

Dance as Visual Art: I Love Tamara Rojo & Romeo and Juliet for the Masses
28 June 2011

I've seen Romeo & Juliet at the O2 last week with Pach and some friends and I must say I kinda like the new paradigm that Royal Ballet had embraced, offering ballet for the masses. The ballet with hotdogs and burgers was a huge success with the whole place jampacked. There were three screens on stage and above we can see where the orchestra was playing.

I was sceptical that the O2 was the right venue for such an intimate performance and how the great Spanish ballerina Tamara Rojo would fare on such a large stage, but she was nothing short of wow. I've first seen her in Cinderella at the Royal Opera House – Call me a ballet novice, but I've never seen such grace and elegance in a dancer. Critics say Tamara is the best in her field. I don't know what that means because I've never seen any other prima ballerina dance before but all I can say is, Tamara is not just a dancer but a true-blood visual art performer. She skips, twirls and lands on her toe in the denouement and our hearts break.

Trailer for Romeo and Juliet

There is still an argument if dance can ever fall under the category of visual arts performance and maybe it's a long discussion to go thru. But I believe that any performance – whether a dance or a song that reaches out to your soul and also forces you to question standards – should be considered part of visual arts. The thing about Tamara is she translates all these things well. On a smaller stage in the Royal Opera House as Cinderella, she was spectacular, but as Juliet, she was breathtaking on both the stage and the screen. We all know the story about Romeo and Juliet but at the point where Tamara drank the poison, she hunched her back and heaved her stomach several times giving us the sense of how disgusting the taste was and the ill effects it was doing on her body.

Tamara Rojo takes the poison to appear dead to Romeo

I can't think of a better partner than Carlos Acosta. The handsome towering Cuban and Tamara Rojo had the chemistry to pull off playing the ill-fated lovers Romeo and Juliet. Thank God for the big screen though that we could witness the passion between them such as the kiss, that we would normally not see on the small stage of the ROH. The giant screens just doubled both Tamara's and Carlos'intensity on stage. A close-up of Tamara, when she learned that Romeo died, showed how fantastic an actress she was.

When Romeo thought Juliet died, I was afraid of how they can carry on dancing. But Carlos lifted and danced with the supposed-to-be lifeless Tamara, tossing and turning her like a rag doll. When the show ended and Juliet lay dead beside her lover, our jaws dropped in awe. AMAZING. Tamara and Carlos were simply the best. All in all, three hours of ballet with burgers and chips was not a very bad idea. I still had my giant glass of Coke unfinished and left it on the stalls but I didn't care.

Another Trailer of Romeo and Juliet

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Photo copyright: Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo by the Royal Ballet/Royal Opera House