Premiering Romeo and Juliet

Post by Principal Dancer Jennifer Kronenberg

What a great honor it was to dance the role of ‘Juliet’ for MCB’s premiere of the historic ballet Romeo and Juliet, and for our silver anniversary – celebrating the company’s great accomplishments over the last twenty five years. I have not felt such excitement and sheer anticipation at the idea of a performance in a very long time. It seemed like the buzz was everywhere, not only between dancers and staff, but out on the street as well. The public was amazingly enthusiastic over us dancing Romeo and Juliet; anxious even, which of course only added to my own exhilaration!

For weeks I dreamt of opening night. My expectations were very high, and I couldn’t wait to get on stage and dance. When the moment finally arrived I was ridiculously emotional. I was nervous, giddy, excited, and so sad to think that in three short hours, before I even knew what hit me, it would all come to an end.

Would performing this iconic ballet be all that I had expected? Could I really do it justice? I had built it up so much in my mind, though I tried my hardest not to. Would the audience appreciate how much I love and respect the role of ‘Juliet’? Could they understand how much hard work went into preparing for it, how special this all was to me? Did that even really matter?  I hadn’t thought so, but I suddenly found myself worrying about it. So many thoughts were going through my head and I wanted to run away from them.

My first couple of entrances went by like a whirlwind. I yearned to feel something magical, yet it was all moving so fast, and not as smoothly as I had hoped. There were traffic issues backstage, costume changes weren’t going smoothly, and I was sweating all of my makeup off… What happened to the fairytale that I had dreamed about? So far I was way too connected to harsh reality.

But before I could get too disappointed, things changed. In the ball scene, when Carlos’ eyes met mine for the first time, everything slowed down. Time stood still in just that instant, and I felt an overwhelming calm come over me. This was it! This was the feeling that I had been waiting for – the high that I feared would get drowned out by adrenaline and frenzy, and escape me in the performance. I felt overwhelmingly relieved at seeing my Romeo. In that moment, I knew that nothing else mattered. We were in the midst of achieving something great, and infinitely special. I knew it was a performance that I’d remember and treasure always, and one that never had to be, nor could be replicated. I decided in that instant to commit myself to enjoying the ride for as long as it would last.

We’ve danced a number of “R&J’s” since opening weekend, and no two have been exactly alike. I’ve been trying to appreciate how unique and distinctly different each one is from the last. I am so happy, and eternally grateful, to have been given the opportunity to dance ‘Juliet’, and I hope that I’ll be able to grow and evolve with each performance to come.

Photos © Kyle Froman