Dancing Romeo & Juliet


We sat down with a few of the principal dancers performing in this year’s production of Romeo & Juliet to get their point-of-view on this classic ballet.


Yuan Yuan Tan

TAN Yuan Yuan (CH)-1

When did you first see Romeo & Juliet? What did you think?
“I first saw Romeo & Juliet on TV, it was of the Royal Ballet with Natalia Makarova was dancing Juliet. The amazing music and emotional story has stayed with me ever since.”

When did you first dance Juliet? How has the role changed for you since the first time?
“I danced my first Juliet here in San Francisco, and have danced it a number of times since, including a very memorable partnership with Yuri Possokhov for his farewell performance. I also had the pleasure of dancing alongside Roberto Bolle at a gala in Shanghai earlier this year. I feel that my character gets stronger and more developed every year I dance Juliet. I have matured quite a bit since my first year dancing the role, and find that I am able to make my character more convincing to myself. The artistic value becomes greater with age and experience.”

Can you describe your experience dancing opposite your partner, Vito Mazzeo*?
“Working on Romeo & Juliet is very unique. I really find my emotional connection with my partner onstage. We can really let go, be in the moment, and experience the characters and chemistry on a deeper level. There is so much two artists can achieve together onstage. When dancing with role with Vito, we are able to discover new emotions onstage together.”

*guest artist

What is your favorite part of the ballet?
“The balcony pas de deux, ballroom scene, and death scene are all very memorable scenes, especially because the music is just so amazing. I look forward to dancing these sections the most.”

Yuan Yuan with be dancing with guest artist Vito Mazzeo
May 2 at 8pm, and May 3 at 2pm.


Davit Karapetyan


When did you first dance in Romeo & Juliet?
“I first danced in Romeo & Juliet when I was 17 years old at Zurich Ballet. I was in the corps and instantly fell in love with the ballet. My first performance of Romeo was here in San Francisco and have since danced the role multiple times, including on tour in Washington D.C., and Orange County.”

What do you most enjoy about dancing Romeo?
“Romeo is a fun character to portray. Because he is this young and romantic guy who is inexperienced in all aspects of his life, his character really develops throughout the ballet. As he falls deeper in love with Juliet, he is evolving as a human being. I also have to say that I really enjoy the sword fighting!”

How do you prepare to dance such an emotionally intense part?
“I love Prokofiev’s score and feel that it totally helps get me in the mindset of the character. The music has so much emotion, and with the choreography, I am really able to get into the character and become Romeo onstage.”

Why do you think the story has endured?
“This story has endured because it reflects real and raw emotions.”

Davit will be dancing with Maria Kochetkova
May 5 at 8pm, and May 7 at 8pm


Vanessa Zahorian


When was the first time you saw Romeo & Juliet? What did you think?
“Around 1995 my mom took me to Washington DC and to see SF Ballet dance this very production! I saw Joanna Berman dance Juliet, and I absolutely fell in love with the whole ballet. Everything from the music, to Helgi’s choreography, to the lush costumes, sets, and lighting completely drew me in and so perfectly told the story.”

When did you first dance Juliet? How has the role changed since that first time?
“My first Juliet was in 2005 here with SF Ballet. I was super young and it was my first real acting role I had here. It was exciting but also so scary to dive into a a truly emotional and vulnerable role, and expose these intense emotions to my peers and the audience. It’s a lot to take on for a young dancer. I find now that I’ve grown into this role, I am able to explore a deeper appreciation for the character. I don’t have to think about technique as much so I can really stay focused on the emotion. But even still, I enjoy looking into my younger side and finding that naiveté again.”

How do you prepare to dance such an emotionally intense part?
“I don’t prepare too much before I go onstage. I go into my thoughts and make Juliet my own personal experience. I want it to be spontaneous, so I really let it be natural. Of course I am technically prepared and know the emotion needed to portray Juliet, but every time I dance this role it is different. It should be spontaneous and fresh so it’s exciting for yourself onstage. We work on the emotions in the studio with Helgi, and then I can freely portray them onstage.”

Can you describe your experience dancing opposite your partner Joan Boada?
“I really appreciate the chance to have this partnership for Romeo & Juliet with Joan for the first time. We are learning a lot from one another. He has a great deal of experience, and is just such a great partner.”

What is your favorite part of the ballet?
“The Balcony pas de deux. It’s just the two of us of , you get to feel free. The lighting is very intimate, and the emotions at that point in the ballet are so intense. It’s just such a special scene. I especially love incorporating my own imagination into this character. After the kiss, I actually get tears in my eyes, and running back up the stairs I just want to burst with joy.”

Vanessa will be dancing with Joan Boada
May 6, at 7:30pm

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  1. avatar Genie Moorhead
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Yuan Yuan Tan & Vito Mazzeo were superb last night. Truly romantic. Why did Vito leave SFB?

  2. avatar Open Studio 455
    Posted May 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Glad you enjoyed the performance! Vito is now with Dutch National Ballet and much closer to his native Italy, but we were thrilled to have him back here, even briefly!

  3. avatar Molly Agras
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    A fantastic evening seeing the Romoe and Juliet Ballet with Maria and David dancing with so much emotion and skill
    Beautifully danced wonderful sets. Great performance by the whole group made a glorious event The whe season has been wonderful Well done Helgi and your staff

  4. avatar Open Studio 455
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you very much, Molly, we’re glad to hear you enjoyed the performance!

  5. avatar Jeff Carey
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Saw Maria and Davit last night. Magical! One of the best ballets I have ever seen in my 50 years of attending. (grew up in NYC when Balanchine was presentling what are now “old favorites”)

  6. avatar Liliane T. Borsuk
    Posted May 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Last night, Maria and Davit’s performance brought tears to my eyes.Their rendition was superlative! No wonder they received a standing ovation! Thank you SF Ballet, we are blessed with your presence!

  7. avatar Open Studio 455
    Posted May 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your feedback and support!

  8. avatar Sheri McClain
    Posted May 9, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Never having seen the ballet, I didn’t think I could be as moved by Romeo and Juliet without Shakespeare’s words. Thursday night’s performance by Davit and Maria was the most beautiful, romantic, and heartbreaking experience of the play that I have ever had. I’m still reeling emotionally from the death scene…bravo!

  9. avatar Lauren
    Posted May 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    May 9th 2pm matinee was beautiful and I found the principals to be very emotive dancers. I could not seem to deduce from the program who they were? Please consider identifying them by show. Thank you!

  10. avatar Open Studio 455
    Posted May 12, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Sheri, we’re glad you enjoyed the performance!

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