Choreographer Matthew Bourne Plans Version of Romeo and Juliet With Male-Male Couple

Classic Arts News   Choreographer Matthew Bourne Plans Version of Romeo and Juliet With Male-Male Couple
British choreographer Matthew Bourne likes the sound of the phrase "Romeo and Julian" — and plans to stage a gay version of Shakespeare's classic love story.

Bourne famously re-imagined Swan Lake with bare-chested male swans in 1995; the ballet was first staged at London's Sadler Wells Theatre and later on Broadway, and a company has been performing the piece somewhere in the world ever since. But despite its critical success, Bourne has reportedly doubted that it was a fully gay work of art, as many of the performers were not portraying people.

The 47-year-old choreographer hopes he can to convincingly portray a gay relationship through dance. The London Independent quotes him as saying, "It's more to do with dancing than sexuality. A male dancer, whether he's gay or straight, fits into a relationship with a female partner very happily. Getting away from that, making a convincing love duet, a romantic, sexual duet for two men that is comfortable to do and comfortable to watch — I don't know if you can, I've never seen it done."

(The American modern dance world, it should be said, has seen any number of all-male love duets over the past two decades or so, though same-sex story ballets equivalent to Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty or Copp_lia are hardly common.)

Bourne founded his dance company, Adventures in Motion Pictures, in 1987; he retired from dancing in 1999 to concentrate on choreography and directing. His most recent success was a ballet version of Edward Scissorhands (currently showing at BAM.)

There has long been scholarly speculation about the sexuality of many of the lead male characters in Romeo and Juliet, especially Mercutio, Romeo's best friend, and Benvolio, his cousin. And the first Juliets were played, of course, by men in drag.

Rehearsals for Bourne's Romeo, Romeo, based on the Prokofiev ballet, will begin next year.

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