Star-crossed lovers, two heavily armed families vying for political dominance — long before Game of Thrones, Shakespeare branded the enduring appeal of these elements with Romeo and Juliet. However luscious its language, it's the play's physicality that lends itself to dance — the lovers' passionate meetings, the deadly swordfights erupting between the families' armies, the doomed timing of the sleeping potion. Those physical possibilities and the timeless appeal of the love story have enticed choreographers to put their own stamp on the tragedy ever since Sergei Prokofiev composed the score in the 1930s. The latest to take on Prokofiev and Shakespeare is Alexei Ratmansky, the former Bolshoi Ballet director and one of the most important classical ballet choreographers working today. Now choreographer in residence at American Ballet Theatre, Ratmansky continues to work with other major international companies, including the National Ballet of Canada, which commissioned a new Romeo and Juliet in 2011. Southern California gets its first look at it this week when the company arrives for five performances. Unlike choreographers such as Angelin Preljocaj, who set the lovers in a militaristic, Blade Runner–esque future, or Mark Morris, who inserted a happy ending, Ratmansky's is steeped in the traditions of classical ballet yet tweaked to bring more individuality to Verona's populace. He also has Juliet awaken just after Romeo has taken the poison but while he still has a few moments to live — just enough time for one last pas de deux. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Thu.-Sat., July 10-12, 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., July 12-13, 2 p.m.; $34-$125. musiccenter.org.
July 10-12, 7:30 p.m.; July 12-13, 2 p.m., 2014
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