Romeo et Juliette, Sasha Waltz
May 20, 2012: Aurelie Dupont, Herve Moreau, Nicolas Paul
Last time I wrote, I thought about spinning around and around in circles until dizziness and giggles set in. Well, it is absolutely true that spinning makes you silly, but what happens when an outside force gives you the same feeling? What do you normally do then? If you think waaaaaay back to your very early years, you might remember being wiggly and squirmy when happy (or maybe this was just me, in which case I may be oversharing). I don’t think this ever completely goes away. To this day when something makes us incredibly happy we do little twists or jumps or kicks. Finishing a great book, or during a movie at the big moment, don’t you do a happy dance, even if it’s just a little head bobble? Sasha Waltz understands this, and for that reason, I loved Romeo and Juliette.
Romeo and Juliette are supposed to be, essentially, kids, so while most traditional representations rely on the dancers’ acting ability to portray youth and first love through classical steps, here it didn’t matter too terribly much. The steps were childish happy ones for childish happy characters. Waltz turned giddiness into choreography, and I don’t think you could help but recognize that and see yourself in the characters’ joy. You make those movements yourself when you’re that happy, and so you know exactly how ecstatic the characters are. For that reason, the last pas de deux between the two of them, when the choreography is repeated, but weakly on Romeo’s part and even more exuberantly on Juliette’s, was truly heartbreaking. Instead of having Juliette wake up to a dead Romeo, Waltz gives them a good five minutes of joy upon seeing each other again. They dance like they did the night they fell in love below Juliette’s balcony. She’s so happy their plan worked and has no idea that anything is amiss until Romeo, who has been trying to fight off the effects of the poison to spend just a few more moments with Juliette, grows too weak to lift her and only then does she realize something is wrong. When he dies in her arms, there’s absolutely no hesitation from her when she decides that she can’t live without him. It’s not terribly dramatic, she doesn’t take forever to do it, there’s no big ‘oh happy dagger’ moment because everything has already been said and understood.
Deliberation would be too adult of an action for these two; they’re just children in love who don’t see the point in anything else. He dies, she stabs herself, we (the adults in the audience who do understand the immaturity of their actions) cry. We cry for the characters’ sadness, for children needlessly dead, and, maybe, we cry because we want to feel that level of joy again, even if the price is the same level of sorrow. Through simply wiggling, Sasha Waltz made us relate to and even feel what the characters felt, but we remained ourselves. We cannot escape our own minds and lives completely, but the characters do. They abandon everything and leave us here. I think part of our collective tears was a longing to be kids in love again.