Sacramento Ballet's Romeo and Juliet

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, February 9, 2005
His name is Richard Lane, an expert in the art of stage combat. Lane was first hired by the ballet in 1992 when artistic director Ron Cunningham debuted his popular version of “Romeo and Juliet.” Lane works with the dancers for weeks on a sequence that lasts less that a minute. (LANE) Everything is choreographed to the Nth degree. There better not be anything random happening over there because the randomness is where the danger is. And that danger is real. These dancers are weilding 38-inch solid steel rapiers. (KERMIT) It’s lighter than a regular sword but it is heavier than the swords you would see with fencing. Kermit Allen is a guest dancer, hired for this production (KERMIT) It’s medium weight so you do feel a little bit sore, but there are certain stretches we kind of learned to kind of help, you know, loosen our arms out afterwards. Getting used to the sword is one thing… learning the language of combat choreography is quite another says Lane. (LANE) And it’s great for theses dancers because what they do, they do really really well. And now I’m asking them to think totally differently from the way they do it. It’s totally outside the box from what they’re used to. Company member Stefon Caulka plays Benvolio (STEPHAN) We’re trying to get down the positions and get our footing correct cause the thing with the swords is you always want to move the sword before you move your feet. And as a dancer, our feet tend to be quicker than our hands so it gets into problems some time with spacing. Once dancers get the technique down, Lane turns their focus on the most important element of making their swordwork believable. (LANE) Uda Hagen coined the expression ‘acting is really reacting.’ It’s your reaction to what I’m doing that tells the audience that you think you’re in dancer. So I keep telling the dancers, it’s not about the cut to the shoulder and the parrier four. That’s just a blade move. It’s about the relationship between your reactions and how your reactions make me feel and make me react that creates the swordfight. (Nat sound) (LANE) There is no perfect way to do a swordfight. There’s the way you do a swordfight. So there might be things in ballet that can be judged, she’s a wonderful dancer because she does that Rond de Jambe so beautifully and perfectly, that can be defined. But in terms of a swordfight, it’s how does it make the audience feel, Errol Flynn did not have great technique. But he knew how to sell a fight. Now that he and his fellow dancers have trained with Richard Lane, dancer Stephan Caulka hopes he too can keep audiences enthralled with the fight he’s trying to sell. (STEPHAN) Hopefully they’ll be on the edge of their seat, hopefully they’ll be nervous or anxious about it because we’re doing it correctly, not for fear of our safety, just because it’s dramatic. Certainly Sergei Prokofiev’s famous score will add to that drama as the Sacramento Ballet performs “Romeo and Juliet” This Thursday through Sunday at the Community Center Theatre. Paul Conley KXJZ News.