Virtual Museum

Virtual Museum

Romeo and Juliet

About the Ballet

William Shakespeare’s story of Romeo and Juliet was one of the first works of literature to inspire ballet choreographers, so perfectly suited to dance are its drama, romance and tragedy. Though Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been translated into dance since the early 19th century, it is in the 20th century that productions have been especially prolific. Since the 1930’s, choreographers have been particularly fortunate to have Sergei Prokofiev’s musical score specifically written for the ballet. It was his intuitive understanding of Shakespeare’s poetry that has left, for generations of ballet and music lovers, the greatest full-length ballet score since those created by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the late 19th century. The score and its history have also proven an inspiration to dozens of contemporary choreographers including John Cranko, Sir Frederick Ashton and Sir Kenneth MacMillan. Romeo and Juliet has become one of the most beloved ballets and most major companies hold a version in their repertoire. John Cranko’s production of Romeo and Juliet, which entered The National Ballet of Canada’s repertoire in 1964 and became one of the company’s signature productions, has been performed by ballet companies all over the world including Miami City Ballet and Vienna State Opera Ballet.

As part of the National Ballet's 60th anniversary celebrations, a new production of Romeo and Juliet was commissioned by internationally celebrated choreographer Alexei Ratmanksy. This world premiere is a totally fresh, brilliantly imagined interpretation of Shakespeare's play. Ratmansky blends the elegance and stateliness of a classical vocabulary with the intense emotional edge of the modern to create an unforgettable version of one of the greatest dance dramas ever.

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Ballet Notes

Get more insight into the production - Ballet Notes are detailed guides to the company's dynamic repertoire. Read the synopsis and articles and view more photos in the Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story Suite Ballet Notes.  

Read the 2007 West Side Story Suite Ballet Notes

Read the 2009 Romeo and Juliet Ballet Notes

Read the 2011 Romeo and Juliet Ballet Notes

Read the 2013 Romeo and Juliet Ballet Notes

Romeos and Juliets

From grueling rehearsals to the world premiere, Romeos & Juliets offers an unprecedented behind-the-curtain look at The National Ballet of Canada as ten dancers vie to perform the coveted lead roles on the coveted opening night of Romeo and Juliet, as envisioned by acclaimed choreographer Alexei Ratmansky in celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary.

Watch Romeos and Juliets 

Production Chronology 

Romeo and Juliet 
Premiere date: April 14, 1964
Choreography: John Cranko
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Set and Costume Design: Jürgen Rose
Lighting Design: Wallace Russell

Romeo and Juliet (revival)
Premiere date: July 11, 1976
Choreography: John Cranko
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Set and Costume Design: Jürgen Rose
Lighting Design: Wallace Russell

Romeo and Juliet
Premiere date: February 8, 1995
Choreography: John Cranko
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Set and Costume Design: Susan Benson
Lighting Design: Robert Thomson

Romeo and Juliet before parting 
Premiere date: August 23, 2005
Choreography: James Kudelka
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Lighting Design: Christopher Dennis

West Side Story Suite 
Premiere date: November 8, 2007
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Set Design: Oliver Smith
Costume Design: Irene Sharaff
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

West Side Story Suite was generously supported by Walter Carsen, O.C., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Judy Korthals and Sandra & Jim Pitblado. 

Romeo and Juliet 
Premiere date: November 16, 2011
Choreography: Alexei Ratmansky
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Costume, Set and Properties Design: Richard Hudson
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

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

Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.