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The premiere of the 'Romeo and Juliet' ballet at ONB - Interview with the two principal dancers
Ovidiu Matei Iancu
Ovidiu Matei Iancu, how does it feel under Renato Zanella's direction and choreography, a modern conception - as it has been said in a press statement?
It feels very good, because he's managed to bring a classical love story into a more modern, more actual setting, which pleases me very much, because this pure love and this story is still relevant today.
What does Zanella bring new in his production? How does he see Romeo and Juliet's story?
It's based on the same thing, on pure love, on love at first sight, so to say, an innocent love, a love for which both of them are willing to do anything, regardless of how different their lives are and how they both have been brought up. What he brings new is, indeed, his idea of transposing everything in a more contemporary setting. It will be evident…the décor, the costumes, the idea itself, everything is brought here. This is what makes this performance completely different from what has been seen before.
What seemed to you like the most difficult thing to accomplish in this production?
I'm not sure there was anything in particular…I think the whole performance is difficult in itself, every performance is difficult in its own way, because you start at the bottom, you start by learning certain new steps. The ensemble, too, was accustomed to classical performances, and when we thought of Romeo and Juliet we were taken back to the classical, to the old productions. And then, he came with a completely new production, neoclassical, modern. And then we had to try and comply with this idea, which, to me, is genius, and this will be evident on stage.
There are only a few days left until the premiere. Tell us about working with the stage partners, with the whole crew.
Oh, what can I tell you, I have only words of praise for everybody, starting with the ballet master, the choreographer Renato Zanella, my partner - Cristina Dijmaru, who is a wonderful person and with whom I've also danced in the past, and I think it's very, very important, for such a performance, that the two partners, the two protagonists - Romeo and Juliet - get along well even when not rehearsing. Because there are many things you have to talk about; there are details which must be established, and this can only be done in harmony and by talking freely. You can't dance with someone with whom you don't get along well and with whom you can't connect. Bogdan Canila, who will interpret Tybalt, is another extraordinary dancer, with whom I get along well…Robert Enache, Bianca Soicheciu…all, all of them are extraordinary dancers…Valentin Stoica, Cristian Preda…we are a team, a team which I hold very dear! And the Opera's technicians did his best, worked all day long so that we could have everything we needed when we came on stage and so that we didn't need to wait after them and waste time…Tiberiu Soare is an extraordinary conductor who has also worked a lot…There was a lot of work to be done and we felt that everybody have done their best and did everything they could so that this performance could turn out well. I'm certain that the performance will meet everyone's expectations!
Ovidiu Matei Iancu, I wish you good luck and I kindly ask you to address an invitation to the public!
I welcome them, I welcome the whole public who loves art and ballet and beauty! Especially since this is March, I think that this performance is very suitable; it's a performance full of love and full of emotion and I'm waiting for everyone to join us and feel, alongside us, all that we'll feel that evening.
How is the direction and choreography imagined by the esteemed Italian artist, Renato Zanella?
I would like to thank him, on this occasion, because he's had faith to offer me the opportunity to play Juliet. It's a very dear role, for me. I'll say that, although the performance is brought to our times, the story is a classic one, that of Shakespeare.
I see you have a very beautiful costume. How are the costumes, the décor?
The costumes are absolutely gorgeous, and I'd like to thank, on this occasion, Ms Carla Ricotti, who has designed them. They are absolutely gorgeous. I like a lot the fact that she has used monochrome so as to denote very clearly the difference between the two families, Capulet and Montague.
What was the most difficult thing to accomplish in this production?
I can say that this role has been a challenge, because it shakes you, but I think I always find it very hard to try and describe that initial moment, that initial contact, that initial eye contact with Romeo. I think that is the most difficult to accomplish, because we rehearse it many times and I'd like the public to feel as if it's the first time, that nothing is directed, that everything is natural. Likewise, I can say that I try every day to gain insight into the ending of the story. I want to wreck the public's hearts, at the end, through death, through the fact that she, at the end of it all, chooses to follow him to the other side and to live happily ever after.
Which do you consider to be the most beautiful scene in the whole ballet, visually, for the public? Or the most beautiful moment?
I think it depends on the person, here. I've always been a romantic and, of course, I like the balcony scene. I think that every woman, after all, likes this scene, but I'll say that this is a ballet that impresses and attracts the public through its story, through its choreography, which brings into focus the characters' feelings very well, nothing is artificial. Everything is done naturally, it flows, and it helps the performer tell their story.
There are only a few days left until the premiere, you're just having final rehearsals. How was working with the crew, with the stage partners?
I can say I'm honoured to have colleagues such as these, I thank my partner a lot, because I can give myself up to him with full confidence, knowing he won't let me fall. Likewise, all the characters, all the players, they help me very much, so that I can play Juliet better, because It depends a lot on the other's reactions too, on what you give and what you receive.
How is working with the technical crew, so to say, with the director and the others?
I can say that everyone tries to lend a hand if, somehow, something isn't where it should be, if the bottle of poison is not in place X, or the scarf isn't in place Y, which is to say we all try to help, to be a team, because I think this is how performances are made best for the public, so that nobody will feel that something was missing or happened incorrectly, we all try to make it turn out as well as possible.
And now, because there are only very few days left until the premiere, an invitation for the public. What would that be?
I invite you all, if you miss seeing how people fall in love, if you miss reliving those feelings of first love and, why not, even today, love exists, why should we forget. Maybe it's told a bit differently in this story, but I think it's good to remember that purest of feelings.
Translated by Adriana-Cătălina Grigore
MTTLC 1st year, University of Bucharest