Choreographer Ilya Kozadayev on creating a new Romeo & Juliet

Ilya Kozadayev Choreographer, Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet! One of the great ballets of our time and one of the most iconic stories in all of literature.

When you’re a dancer there’s something special about performing Romeo & Juliet. The sword fighting, the passion and romance, and, yes, the death and despair, combine to tell a story that is unlike anything else in the canon of classical ballet. I performed this ballet many times and every time you step on stage, a fresh sense of energy washes over you.

With my performing career (mostly) behind me, I have the privilege to approach this ballet as a choreographer and director, bringing this complex and tragic story to life with a new perspective. Misha Djuric approached me almost a year ago with a creative vision for a new, collaborative production of Romeo & Juliet. He wanted to bring actors into the production to be part of the story and to perform Shakespeare’s magnificent text live.

I was immediately intrigued.

Misha connected me with a lion in the local theater scene: Tony Estrella, artistic director of the Gamm Theatre, whose experience with Shakespeare is downright impressive. It has been a fascinating process for both of us working on this project, learning from each other, and bringing this story to life.

This ballet is hard. The pas de deux scenes are long and passionate, overflowing with power and romance. The fight scenes are a complex balance of swordsmanship and showmanship. But ultimately storytelling and characterization are the most important challenges and I enjoy tackling them. The characters are complex and deep, each flawed in their own ways. Bringing that out in the dancers in an authentic way has been one of the great privileges of working on this new ballet.

I hope you will join us Valentine’s Day Weekend February 10-12 for an evening of passion, romance, and Shakespeare! I am sure you will agree this ballet is a powerful retelling of a truly iconic story.

See you at the theater!

P.S. Check out my interview for the FBP Series “Locker Room Talk” below!

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