By Kathi E.B. Ellis for WFPL
September 8th, 2018
Friday night wasn’t just the Louisville Ballet beginning its 2018-2019 season with a world premiere; it was also the first performance at the Kentucky Center since a June fire closed down the building for what has been a very long summer for staffers and construction workers.
Louisville Ballet resident choreographer Adam Hougland, in his first full-length story ballet, is taking on that most iconic of love stories “Romeo and Juliet.” Having choreographed three Stravinsky ballets, Hougland now turns to the Prokofiev score of ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ Here, “Romeo and Juliet” is also revisioned; brought into a more contemporary zeitgeist. Hougland is faithful to the framework of Shakespeare’s original, with some necessary omissions and edits, and a handful of additions.
This production of “Romeo and Juliet” is one of the most visually sophisticated Louisville Ballet productions of recent years (together with last season’s Faure’s “Requiem” and another Hougland piece, “Fragile Stasis”.) Partnering with Trad A Burns for both scenic and lighting design, the Whitney stage is transformed into an out-of-time town square, in neutral tones, that could be anywhere in our world today or tomorrow, while also referencing Renaissance architectural silhouettes. Additional locations are suggested by a series of drops that create a variety of spatial relationships for the characters. These spaces are enhanced with bold shifts of color and shadow in lighting.