Romeo and Juliet: O Happy Dagger

I would like to add one observation to Cleopold’s description of Cojocaru’s stage presence. She used her own way of moving, down to fluttering fingertips, to illustrate that quasi-animalistic/quasi-tamed state which girls live through circa age fourteen. At that moment in life a physical intelligence is there, but impulses — mostly rebellious – control their behavior.

Throughout, Cojocaru used MacMillan’s splendid choreographic outline for dancer-actors in order to strech her bodily contours into a repeated La Sylphide-like « let me escape from this flat world » gesture: a delicately thrusting up-or-outward movement of those flexible arms and fingers and toes. [MacMillan, even if he hated it, always did paradoxically encourage dancers to make parts their own. Not change the steps, mind you. But from the waist up was different and encouraged.
Interpretation reconciled with the steps he loved].Cojocaru kept reminding me of those kinds of girls who decide with a friend to leap out of a window together in some kind of wierdly exhalted state.

Juliet’s fluttering hands had been reaching yearningly towards Romeo ever since they met. Yet she also kept making gestures towards…escape. She’d clearly wanted to run away with him ever since that moment of stillness you described. Now in the last scene, as her fingers fluttered down towards him after stabbing herself her body seemed to be singing that they would find each other in a better world. That one which exists only in teenager’s dreams. The gestures made me think of a Gilda deluded enough to imagine that Rigoletto could actually find consolation in the idea that his dying daughter would meet her mother in heaven.

You, Cleo, never use binoculars, for you want the movement to speak and not the « grimaces. » I couldn’t resist at this point…I needed to be sure of what I was witnessing. For after stabbing herself she did something I’ve never, ever, seen done by a dancer or an actress in this role. This Juliet died with a radiant and ecstatic smile on her face for, clearly, she believed she was about to be reunited with the one she loved more than life itself.


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