March 4, 2022 | LIFE |By Carlee Castillo | Illustration by Sierra Romero

Romeo and Juliet is a love story that has transcended time. The Shakespearean tale remains poignant in a modern era and serves as the inspiration for an endless stream of contemporary stories. The Colorado Ballet captured the timeless magic of Romeo and Juliet with a production that ran from Feb. 4 to Feb. 13 of this year.

With elaborate sets and costumes, Colorado Ballet’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet was stunning. The graceful techniques of the dancers were reflected in the setting where they performed. This attention to detail was also apparent in the theater’s prioritization of safety.

In contrast with my previous visit to the ballet “Giselle,” the theater was sold out. Requiring proof of full vaccination status or a negative test, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House of the Denver Performing Arts center ushered in upwards of a hundred masked guests.

The cast for the night of Feb. 13 inspired further awe. Jennifer Grace starred as Juliet. Grace was born in Bozeman, Mont. and trained at some of the most elite institutions in the ballet world, including The Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia.

The principal dancer for the Colorado Ballet not only displays otherworldly dance talent and technique but has a mystical knack for acting. Similar to her execution as the titular star of “Giselle,” her performance moved me, and many fellow patrons, to tears. Her graceful movements juxtaposed the intensity of Juliet’s emotions –– including betrayal, sorrow, and longing –– and further emphasized the poise and skill required by ballet.

The audience was also treated to a delightful surprise when Christophor Moulton took the stage as Romeo, as he was originally listed to perform in the role of Paris. The soloist is a Colorado Springs native, training at the Dance Center of Colorado Springs and graduating from the Harid Conservatory in Florida. Similar to Grace, Moulton displayed raw and genuine feeling on stage. His impressive ballet technique was supplemented by stirring acting ability.

Although Colorado Ballet’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet involved modern dancers and actors, the performance delivered unchanging messages. The tragic romance of the play tells us that love supersedes loyalty, emotion, and other values; that love incites a certain magic. Although I witnessed sweet moments between couples in the audience, it seems that this abundant, all-encapsulating love is more rare in the modern world. How has modernity shifted our experiences with love?

The myth of scarcity is interwoven throughout Romeo and Juliet and translated in modern age. The protagonists’ demise stems from their belief that there was only one person that they could ever truly love and be loved by. Although this myth of scarce affection permeates our modern culture, the evolution of online dating has commodified romance. In one sense, online dating has made love more accessible. However, when we are presented with a seemingly endless rotation of potential partners on apps such as Tinder or Bumble, the excitement of romance fades.

When our perception of others is mediated through a screen, a sense of mystery and magic is lost. In no way is Romeo and Juliet the idealistic model for a present day romance, but the Colorado Ballet production of the work displayed a certain waning enchantment that accompanied what was once love. I, personally, welcomed the escape from the current digital scape of romance, even if only for a few hours.

The pivotal first meeting of Romeo and Juliet caused the entire theater to hold their breath. As a spotlight fixated on the frozen protagonists, the mesmerized state of the characters washed over the audience. This lighting technique and motif of enchantment was repeated consistently throughout the performance. In all, despite its infamous tragic conclusion, the Colorado Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet reinvigorated romance.

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