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Romeo and Juliet ballet duo to reunite for Royal Opera House performance

Ball and Naghdi as Romeo and Juliet in 2015 (Alice Pennefather/ROH)
Ball and Naghdi as Romeo and Juliet in 2015 (Alice Pennefather/ROH)

Matthew Ball and Yasmine Naghdi will revisit their roles of Romeo and Juliet at The Royal Ballet, three years since they last danced together as the star-cross’d lovers.

The pair – now both principals in the company – will perform together in Kenneth MacMillan’s dramatic masterpiece at the Royal Opera House (ROH).

Ball, 26, and Naghdi, 27, debuted as the young lovers in 2015 for the ballet’s 50th anniversary and will reunite for two performances during the show’s run.

Ball and Naghdi in 2015 (Alice Pennefather/ROH)
Ball and Naghdi in 2015 (Alice Pennefather/ROH/PA)

Asked about taking on the roles again, Naghdi told the Press Association: “It was Matt and I’s debut of the roles, so we were much younger then.

“I was a soloist and he was a first artist and now we’ll be be revisiting our roles both as principals, so that has a wonderful meaning in itself.”

Ball added: “It was a bit of a watershed moment last time, because we had done a few good roles but this was a real moment.

“It felt like a bit of a test, not because it was pressure and expectation but it was the opportunity to see what we could do in a dramatic narrative ballet and see if we could carry a story like that.

“As an experience, it was really enriching but very, very new. In the meantime, it feels like a lot has happened.”

Ball as Romeo (Alice Pennefather/ROH)
Ball play the part of Romeo (Alice Pennefather/ROH/PA)

Set to Sergey Prokofiev’s seminal score and against the backdrop of 16th-century Verona, the work has been performed by The Royal Ballet more than 400 times since it premiered in 1965.

Naghdi, who called the ballet “timeless”, said Romeo and Juliet remained a special performance for the pair of them.

“I think the really beautiful thing for us is we’ll never forget that Romeo & Juliet,” she said.

“It was such a significant part of our lives and our careers and over the years, we’ll have various performances and do so many roles that maybe you forget about, but I think that Romeo & Juliet is so significant for us both.”

She became a principal in 2017, with Ball promoted to the role last year.

On whether the company has become more diverse since the last Romeo and Juliet, Ball said: “With more modern choreography and stuff, that comes into question more, and the Opera has a bit of a focus on there being women choreographers represented and the issues are addressed.

“I know in the past there’s been some criticism but it’s very difficult when you’re trying to look after and preserve the heritage of works that were created in the 19th century, which obviously come from a different frame of mind.

“There’s obviously a whole list of 20th century classics, this included, which come from a different time as well.

“It’s a really forward thinking company, especially for the institution that it is and that it represents.

“Obviously it’s hard for somewhere like that to be pushing boundaries but I really think we do.”

The final performance during the revival, on June 11, will be broadcast live into cinemas around the world as part of ROH Live Cinema.

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