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Ballet puts Radiohead twist on Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Courtesy of 6 Prime Agency

Classic meets contemporary when Ballet Maribor’s “Radio and Juliet” comes to the Palace Theatre Thursday at 8 p.m.

Romanian dancer and choreographer Edward Clug created the ballet in 2005, which is Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet,” performed to the music of alternative rock band Radiohead.

Clug’s manager, Stéphane Fournial, said Clug got the idea when he started doing various mash-ups of other themes and decided to show his love for Radiohead through dance.

Once Clug presented his idea to Fournial, the first thought going through Fournial’s mind was “My god, this guy is coo-coo,” Fournial said.

Though he didn’t know much about Radiohead beforehand, Fournial said the idea turned out to be spot-on.

“The music really supports the work of Clug’s choreography,” Fournial said. “It really, all together, (makes) a beautiful performance.”

Eleven Radiohead songs are used during the one-hour show, including “Idioteque,” “How to Disappear Completely” and “Bullet Proof… I Wish I Was.”

The movements of the dancers and the overall story work well with Radiohead’s music, Fournial said.

There are seven principal dancers — one female and six males. While the lone female, Tijuana Križman, portrays Juliet, the men don’t have specific roles because that’s one part of the ballet Clug wanted to leave to the audience’s imagination, Fournial said.

It’s up to the audience to “imagine who is Romeo (and) who is Mercutio,” Fournial said.

While the audience members are left to interpret the story for themselves, some Radiohead fans are a bit skeptical about the show.

“It’s kind of a weird combination,” said Layla Banaie, a second-year in international studies. The show is something she would have to see to understand, she said.

The more Banaie thought of it, the less she could imagine the plot of the performance, she said. The less she imagined of the plot, the more intrigued she was to see it, she said.

“What grabs my attention is that it’s Radiohead music,” Banaie said. “If it were just a normal adaptation of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ I don’t know how willing I’d be able to go.”

These feelings are among what Fournial feared most during the first show of this tour.

“My first doubt … was really the audience, (but) not because of kids,” he said. Fournial thought that the audience would primarily consist of lovers of classical theater and not so much college kids, he said.

Fournial said that despite these doubts, the crowd response was amazing and the show is still running.

“It’s amazing,” he said.

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