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Courtesy Trudie Lee

Decidely Jazz Danceworks turns familiar Shakespeare on its head with Juliet and Romeo

By Tessie Ward, January 17 2017 —

For the annual High Performance Rodeo, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks will put a modern spin on a Shakespearean classic with Juliet and Romeo. The dance company fuses narration, dance and live music to present the play in an entirely new way.

The show includes a cast of nine dancers, a narrator and a live four-piece band playing original music composed for the show by Nick Fraser.

“I think that it’s a dance concert, but it’s also a music concert and a piece of theatre,” artistic director and choreographer Kimberley Cooper says.

Cooper says the adaptation isn’t just for Shakespeare buffs.

“I think that it doesn’t matter if you like Shakespeare or not. If you do like it and you do know it, then hopefully you’ll like what we’ve done with it,” she says. “I think that it’s such a famous play that there’s something kind of fun about the fact that everybody sort of knows what happens. It’s 422-years old and people still love it. So that says something really interesting about what an amazing piece of theatre and amazing piece of art it is.”

Cooper says she is particularly excited to work with Cory Bowles, who plays the narrator and helped adapt the original text. Bowles has worked on many different projects, including Trailer Park Boys and the new CBC television show Pure.

“He’s an actor, he’s a writer, he’s a director,” Cooper says. “I’ve wanted to do a story ballet for a long time and all the pieces came together and seemed to fit for this right now.”

While Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the obvious source material, Cooper says the show isn’t an exact recreation.

“We’re only using a little bit of the original text. Most of it has been adapted by Cory so it has a kind of different feel,” she says. “We veer away from the story at times and we choose different aspects to highlight and talk about. It’s been pretty fun.”

She also says the title was important to her.

“I wanted people to know right off the bat that it wasn’t going to be traditional. I also think that Juliet is the more interesting character and I wanted to pay a little bit more attention to her,” Cooper says.

The show marks Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ first involvement in the High Performance Rodeo since 2010.

Juliet and Romeo runs from January 18–28 at the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Dance Centre. Tickets are $18 for students and are exclusively available on their website.

For more information, visit hprodeo.ca

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