Romeo and Juliet: "Capturing The Sublime" Crista Villella
As Edward Villella's daughter, I grew up immersed in art and surrounded by artists. It wouldn't be an understatement to say that art was the religion of our household, and the great artist's our gods. To my dad, George Balanchine is the ultimate genius of artistic expression, and he has devoted his life to studying his work, preserving it, and passing it down to future generations in its most authentic form. To me, the only artist's work that speaks to me as profoundly as Balanchine's ballets do are the plays of William Shakespeare. Anything you need to know in life you can learn from a Shakespeare play. So, I devoted four years of college to study Shakespeare at New York University.
I now work at the Miami City Ballet as a Ballet Mistress, and I must admit that when I heard that we were putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet, I was skeptical as to whether or not a ballet could express the raw truths that Shakespeare's play seeks to illuminate. Would the ballet just skim the surface of the world's most famous love tragedy? Or could this ballet possibly effectively convey the passion, teenage eroticism, sublime love, idealism, hatred, anger, impulsiveness, and tragic fate of the play? Could the ballet fully realize the complexities of these characters? Could the ballet ask the question "what is love?" and define love in so many different ways? Could the ballet make the audience ask what love really is? I got my answers after our first run through rehearsal when I had to run to the rest room so no one would see the tears rolling down my face. I was truly moved and I understood Romeo and Juliet in a whole new light.
Romeo and Juliet deals with universal themes that are mythic in scope. Music and ballet are capable of expressing the sublime in a way that the written word simply can't. Shakespeare's words can cut to the essence of any human truth, but the words themselves need to be processed and force you think before you are moved by them. The language can be complex and difficult to comprehend and that can at times separate the audience from experiencing the full of effect of the emotional scope of the play. The ballet and music on the other hand touch you instantly, completely captivate you, and effortlessly take you through Romeo and Juliet's journey. The audience can't help but be drawn into the moment and the moments are very moving.
Now, ballet and music have a flaw too. Their flaw is that they only exist for a fleeting moment in time before that moment turns into mere memory, whereas the written word is recorded to withstand time. But the moments in this production were too powerful to be lost in the realm of memory! They needed to be recorded. We needed a way to look back, evoke our memories, and to be moved again. What better way to capture a moment and record it to withstand time than through the art of photography? Fortunately Daniel Alouzay, a photographer whose photographs capture the sublime as powerfully as the ballet, which captured the sublime as powerfully as the play, was inspired to photograph our production of Romeo and Juliet. And so, we present to you a new work of art that does much more than evoke memories. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and each one of these photographs has its own story to tell, its own dramatic effect, and its own new perspective of Romeo and Juliet. Again, I now understand Romeo and Juliet in a whole new light just like I did the first time I saw the ballet. I hope that you do too! Enjoy!
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