I happily traipsed down to the Metropolitan Opera House to see David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova perform the lead roles in American Ballet Theater’s Romeo and Juliet on Monday night. I usually get student rush, but as the show was nearly sold out, I had to spring for some balcony seats.
Romeo and Juliet is one of my favorite ballets. That makes me twice a girl. It’s really the full package: beautiful music, great choreography, nerve-racking partnering and, of course, death. Like the opera, most people die at the ballet, and Romeo and Juliet isn’t exactly unfamiliar material. So I knew what to expect.
UNTIL THERE WAS A STANDING OVATION AT THE FIRST INTERMISSION. THEY HADN’T EVEN DIED YET. After the balcony scene (which ends the first act), full grown men were in tears, small children were starstruck, and there was general hysteria- a testament to the sheer forces of nature that are David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova.
This post could be a lot of things: a critique of the performance, a rant about ballet, a shout out to male dancers (read Sascha Radetsky’s “Don’t Judge Me By My Tights”), an analysis of Romeo and Juliet and its adaptation to the ballet stage, a few interpretations of Hallberg and Osipova’s interpretations of Romeo and Juliet, a separate rant about ballet, yada yada yada.
But, as the title suggests, a fairly obvious takeaway from the night was the overused yet always enjoyable hashtag/meme/catchphrase YOLO. Not in the haha-let’s-do-something-we-shouldn’t-because-I-don’t-think-of-the-consequences-and-being-reckless-makes-me-look-swag way, but in the life-is-too-short way, the I-don’t-care-about-social-boundaries-or-norms way, the the-risk-is-worth-it way or the follow-your-heart way. Simultaneously and alternatively, Juliet is working this I’d-rather-die-now-because-I-have-reached-the-height-of-my-life-both-emotionally-and-purposefully-and-I-don’t-want-to-endure-the-lugging-strain-of-my-descent way. You see both edges of the sword in Romeo and Juliet and the full extent of the internet philosophy in a span of 3 hours. It’s a complete lifetime- the farthest reaches of emotion gnarled into two small/lengthy bodies, maneuvered into ~60 instruments and projectile-d onto an audience of 3,800.
So props to Shakespeare and MacMillian, who continue to be timely and relevant in the age of sarcastic and cynical internet hotflashes (you’re welcome, Mrs. Boyd, Sara Murphy and Professor Rosenberg).