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Dances...Patrelle Does Small ‘Romeo’

March 20, 1993

NEW YORK (AP) _ Since ″Romeo and Juliet″ is usually danced here by the British Royal Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet, it might be thought that it’s only possible to be done by large ballet companies.

However, choreographer Francis Patrelle proves that ″Romeo and Juliet″ can be presented effectively by a small company. His creation, which opened the fifth annual Dances...Patrelle season Friday night, only has one miscalculation.

Patrelle includes a chorus of self-conscious young girls, in brown tatters and wild hair. They may be a Greek chorus, harpies, foretellers of doom or filling up time. Whatever it is, this story doesn’t need them.

Patrelle gives the nurse, Paris and Friar Lawrence some real dancing and changes some incidents in the story line of the larger ″Romeo″ ballets, which cause no harm. He emphasizes an unnatural affection between Tybalt and Lady Capulet. The wedding was staged to be unusually meaningful. Romeo, newly married, usually grabs Mercutio’s arm in anguish at seeing him duel with Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, allowing Tybalt to stab him. Here, Tybalt stabs Mercutio in the back and his friends, not realizing it, horse around, so Mercutio doesn’t have a big solo death scene.

Juliet sees visions of Mercutio’s and Tybalt’s ghosts before she drinks the sleeping potion, which emphasizes her fear.

Juliet was danced very sweetly by Mary Barton, formerly of the Joffrey and Cleveland-San Jose, Ohio, Ballet. Her Romeo was her husband, Douglas Martin, seven years in the Joffrey Ballet. He was very strong dancing with her but didn’t stand out enough in trios with Febrice Herrault, a teasing Mercutio, and Peter Lentz, as Benvolio. Lentz replaced Edwin Kinter, who broke his toe on Monday.

The setting was splendid, with a side rear platform with two stairways which could be balcony, church or passageway. A backdrop of buildings added depth. The choreography was never unexpected but stayed in the romantic tradition and was both pretty and interesting.

Costumes were elaborate enough to look elegant, the Capulets in red and the Montagues in blue. Four women fighting and four men fighting were more than enough to fill the stage of Florence Gould Hall. Two men in a vigorous swordfight filled it, too.

The company will dance ″Romeo,″ to recorded Prokofiev music, through March 27.

Cynthia Gregory, cochairman of the opening night party, who danced in the previous four New York seasons, said, ″Last April 11 on this stage I put on my pointe shoes for the last time.″

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