American Ballet Theatre brings ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to Kennedy Center for Valentine’s Day

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Romeo & Juliet' at Kennedy Center (Part 1)

Are you still looking for something romantic to do for the week of Valentine’s Day?

The acclaimed American Ballet Theatre of New York City brings a special performance of “Romeo & Juliet” to the Kennedy Center in D.C. from Wednesday through Sunday.

“‘Romeo & Juliet’ is one of the most passionate, deep love stories ever,” Artistic Director Susan Jaffe told WTOP. “It is about a young girl and boy who fall in love and will be together at all costs even if it requires them to die. Their story through the ballet is filled with heartfelt depth and humanity. Truly it is one of the most romantic stories in the world.”

Based on William Shakespeare’s classic 1594 play, the iconic story unfolds in Verona, Italy, where young lovers Romeo and Juliet fall in love despite the violent, tribal mindsets between their respective families and sworn enemies, the Montagues and Capulets.

This version was created by and choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, who first staged it at London’s Royal Ballet in the 1960s before American Ballet Theatre brought it to the Kennedy Center in 1985. Each time it features unforgettable music by Sergei Prokofiev.

“What’s great about the music is that it’s so deep and rich,” Jaffe said. “The choreography is so in line with the music that the music just adds to the emotional impact of what the audience is seeing and it really brings your emotions all the way through the ballet.”

You’ll also enjoy Nicholas Georgiadis’ colossal sets and lavish costumes.

“Huge sets that really depict Italy: Huge, sprawling staircases, arches, colors very much like what you would see in a piazza, doorways, it really evokes the time,” Jaffe said. “The costumes are very much in the period, so you are taken back to that century, experiencing it as if you were there. Who wouldn’t want to run down that staircase as Juliet?”

The Kennedy Center is a homecoming for Jaffe, who grew up in this area.

“I am from Bethesda, Maryland, and had my first performance at the Kennedy Center when I was a child for the New York City Ballet as a big bug in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,'” Jaffe said. “When I joined ABT, I had my company premiere at the Kennedy Center in 1980. So coming back now as artistic director … I get to have my family come watch.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Romeo & Juliet' at Kennedy Center (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up