National Arts Centre


National Arts Centre


Romeo and Juliet


Alexei Ratmansky created his stunning adaptation of Romeo and Juliet for The National Ballet of Canada in 2011 to open the company’s 60th anniversary season. The production is true to the colour and character of 16th century Verona and the choreography includes fast footwork, expressive pas de deux and inspired ensemble work that drives the story. Romeo and Juliet is pure Ratmansky, a thoughtful and visually striking revival of one of ballet’s great narrative works.

The Story

Verona is the site of a longstanding feud between two families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo, a Montague, falls in love with Juliet, a forbidden Capulet, and they marry in secret. When Juliet learns she is pledged in marriage to someone else, she takes a sleeping potion to convince her family she is dead. She sends news of her plan to Romeo but he does not receive it. Believing Juliet dead, Romeo takes his own life and she, on waking, takes hers.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Ratmansky incorporates more dancing than some older versions of Romeo and Juliet, replacing certain mime scenes with movement. For example, Romeo’s first sighting of Juliet – and the moment they fall in love – is an exquisite lift sequence that alludes to their soaring hearts.
  2. 2Sergei Prokofiev’s score has contributed to the enduring popularity of Romeo and Juliet and is one of the finest in ballet history. The music captures the emotion and drives events in the story, using recurring sounds and phrases to define the characters. For example, Juliet is depicted with the quicksilver violins, expressing her youth and innocence.
  3. 3Richard Hudson, the Tony Award-winning designer of The Lion King, designed the sets and costumes. He used Renaissance paintings and frescoes as inspiration for the muted colour palette, fabrics, hats, headdresses and cloaks.
  4. 4The casting and creation of the ballet were captured in Moze Mossanen’s successful documentary for CBC television, Romeos and Juliets.
  5. 5Ratmansky has created acclaimed new work for companies around the world and he has a particular interest in ballet history and revivals of legacy works. In addition to Romeo and Juliet, he has staged revivals of The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and La Bayadère.
Watch and Explore

Romeo and Juliet View Gallery

The Choreographer

Born in St. Petersburg, Alexei Ratmansky is a choreographer and former ballet dancer. He is Artist in Residence at American Ballet Theatre and former Artistic Director of The Bolshoi Ballet. He has created new work for ballet companies around the world, including Romeo and Juliet for The National Ballet of Canada.

The Composer

Russian-born Sergei Prokofiev was one of the major composers of the 20th century, known and celebrated for his symphonies, operas, piano sonatas and ballets, notably Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella, widely considered his masterpieces.


“Finally, a Romeo and Juliet for our time” – Los Angeles Register

“★★★★/4 Thrillingly dramatic… dance drama doesn’t get much better than this.” – Toronto Star

“Of the six versions I have seen by choreographers alive today, this is much the best.” – The New York Times


Alexei Ratmansky

Sergei Prokofiev

Set, Costume and Properties Design:
Richard Hudson

Lighting Design:
Jennifer Tipton

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, November 16, 2011

Lead philanthropic support for Romeo and Juliet is provided by Sandra Pitblado, C.M & Jim Pitblado, C.M., with additional generous support from Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, an anonymous friend of the National Ballet and Walter Carsen, O.C.

Email Newsletter

Be the first to know when casting is announced by signing up for Ballet News.

Sign Up Today