Star-crossed dancers will take the stage in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Sometimes the staff of The Munro Review forgets something important. Such is the case this weekend, when I neglected to include in my coverage the Valley Performing Arts Council’s presentation of “Romeo and Juliet” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Saroyan Theatre.

This annual collaboration between the VPAC and the renowned State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara is one of the dance highlights of the year. It’s an opportunity for professional ballet dancers to perform with students on the same stage.


Photo / David Bazemore

State Street Ballet Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson uses the classic Prokofiev score and “intensifies the drama by highlighting the most emotional and romantic moments of the world’s most treasured love story.”

The title roles are being danced by some big names. Romeo is portrayed by Aaron Smyth, an Australian, who is soon to be a movie star. He will appear as the Snow Cavalier, opposite Misty Copeland in Disney’s upcoming feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” with a scheduled release date of November.


He brings a stellar dance background:

Smyth has been a company member with the American Ballet Theatre II in New York, The Royal Ballet in London and The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago where he danced soloist and principal roles. He now travels the globe as a principal guest artist. He has also won numerous medals in international ballet competitions and is the founding director of Dance For Humanity and wellness house EC1 Studios in London.

The role of Juliet will be danced by Deise Mendonça, a native of Brazil. She’s been a principal dancer with The Bolshoi Company in Brazil and performed with Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Ballet Municipal of Rio de Janeiro and Ballet de Santiago in Chile. She joined State Street Ballet in 2013.

Tickets are $31.50-$74.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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