Juliet and Romeo

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks reimagines Shakespeare’s classic love story

Photo: Scott Reid

Artistic Director, Kim Cooper, is quick to point out that the new Decidedly Jazz Danceworks production is called Juliet and Romeo, rather than the original Shakespearean title, Romeo and Juliet.

“It’s called that because we were interested in exploring more of Juliet’s perspective,” she says. “We didn’t add anything more to the story, we just think Juliet is more interesting, so we choose to focus on her.”

When soliciting feedback on the original play, Cooper’s insight that Juliet is the more impressive character has resonated well with both women and men.

“We talked to people taking English (degrees) and they felt, ‘Well, Romeo is kind of stupid, and Juliet gets screwed.’ To which I said, ‘Yes! Come see the play!’” laughs Cooper. “Romeo’s a bit flakey, while she’s a real powerhouse in the story. We suggest what would happen if she was able to make her own decisions, it would have turned out differently.”

While the ending doesn’t actually change in DJD’s version, Juliet at the forefront certainly makes you feel it should have been different. She stood up to the patriarchy, she deserves better.

“Yeah, she totally does,” says Cooper. “I think Shakespeare was a feminist. That’s all in there, we just don’t pay attention to it as much.

Another central part of the production is the reading of play itself by orator Natasha Korney.

“In terms of the text,” explains Cooper, “it’s all been adapted, except a reading of Queen Mab’s speech, which really encapsulates the violence and passion as not always beautiful and kind of ugly. But that’s the only true Shakespearean text, everything else has been adapted to rap, slam poetry or spoken word. The end has a big open letter to Juliet from society, apologizing for letting her down, for letting all young women down.”

Juliet and Romeo runs Jan. 16-26 as part of the High Performance Rodeo at the DJD Theatre // TIX