The beloved ballet "Romeo and Juliet" receives an updated look as The Joffrey Ballet presents the work through May 11 at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre.
"Romeo and Juliet," choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor, is celebrating its U.S. premiere with this Joffrey production. It closes The Joffrey Ballet's 2013-14 "Masters of Dance" series. The ballet was originally choreographed for the Scottish Ballet in 2008.
About "Romeo and Juliet," Pastor said, "It's one of the most universal stories and this is important for people now."
During a recent telephone interview with Pastor from The Joffrey Tower in Chicago where he was in rehearsal with the acclaimed Chicago troupe, the choreographer said Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" celebrates "an incredible eternal love," which isn't just interpreted as romantic love.
Pastor, the director of the Polish National Ballet, is also resident choreographer of the Dutch National Ballet. He said with his rendition of the hit ballet, he wanted to present something different and set it in various time periods.
"In my version, I move the action much closer to our time," he said, adding it begins during the '30s amidst "rising Fascism." The production's second act progresses to the '50s, early '60s, an era Pastor called a more "optimistic and peaceful time."
Then the third act takes it to around the time period of the 1990s.
"I have backdrops and canvases that (convey) those time periods," he said. For example, the '30s backdrops are in black and white while the '50s, '60s flourish with more pop colors in set and costumes.
Throughout the story of the star-crossed lovers and family feuding, Pastor said the characters of Romeo and Juliet remain universal.
"They're timeless," Pastor said. Romeo and Juliet also don't change costumes throughout the production, further adding to their ubiquitous nature. "It's a fascinating story," Pastor said.
The choreographer said he's honored to have The Joffrey Ballet debuting "Romeo and Juliet" in Chicago for its U.S. premiere.
"It's a company with a good reputation. It's dynamic," he said. "I'm very happy about The Joffrey doing it and glad I can show my work through them."
FYI: The Joffrey Ballet performs "Romeo and Juliet" through May 11 at The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago. Tickets are $31 to $152. For tickets, call (800) 982-2787 or visit ticketmaster.com.