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Royal Ballet set to rock the O2

PUBLISHED: 12:31 27 April 2011

Royal Ballet  ROMEO & JULIET ROH 12 Apr 04  LAUREN CUTHBERTSON, EDWARD WATSON  photograph: Dee Conway ©

Royal Ballet ROMEO & JULIET ROH 12 Apr 04 LAUREN CUTHBERTSON, EDWARD WATSON photograph: Dee Conway ©

Archant

Royal Ballet Principal Edward Watson hopes the country’s largest ever live stage version of Romeo and Juliet will introduce a new audience to the breathtaking genre.

The 34-year-old sensation, from Bromley. fell in to ballet after attending classes with his twin sister as a child.

But as his family moved to Dartford, he was just 10-years-old and already on his way to stardom, snapped up by The Royal Ballet School he became a full-time student until he turned 18.

His role sees him perform regularly to about 2,500 people at The Royal Opera House, but with a 9,000 strong crowd expected at The O2 this summer - in a setting more familier with rock concerts - he is confident of reaching out to a wider audience.

“It’s the perfect venue really. The Opera House is not small by any means but this is off the chart,” he said excitedly.

“We want to keep that live atmosphere and you will get the regular ballet audience but some people who will come for the first time.

“It is in a place more people feel comfortable with, a home to pop concerts and a variety of other events. The pull and magnitude is great. Ok some may come and not like it but they would have tried, others will see it’s something they quite like but have not yet been exposed to.”

With over 60 dancers and actors, a live orchestra and specially filmed sequences to enhance the drama on stage The Royal Ballet will perform four nights in June.

Expectations are huge, it is being billed as the biggest event of the season, despite a Word Tour and the usual packed schedule at the famous home of ballet.

He added: “Recently I danced in Chicago (America) as a guest for a dance festival, 10,000 watched that so it doesn’t daunt me. I prepare as usual weeks in advance but you must not let it overwhelm you.

“Despite the massive audience the intimate relationship of Romeo and Juliet will be explored in their emotions close-up. Large television screens will allow you to watch and feel the closeness and passion and really draw them in. We want to build on that and explore it with the audience but on a bigger scale.”

And for those who remain sceptical about The Royal Ballet performing at a more mainstream venue may I remind you about one of this year’s most talked about cinema hits - Black Swan. Starring Natalie Portman the film revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet and the competitive nature of the industry. Since its release about four months ago it has grossed more than $300 million in cinemas worldwide. Based on the amount taken per cinema upon release in the first week it came second only to The King’s Speech.

Mr Watson added: “Who would have thought Black Swan would have been such a hit? Ballet in the cinema, ballet at The 02. It shows more people are willing to be introduced to this form of entertainment. If not there would be no motivation to do it.”

Performances are held on Friday June 17 at 7.30pm, Saturday 18 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, and Sunday 19 at 7.30pm. They are priced from £10 to £60 with superseats available for £95.

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