8 Sept 2021 (world premiere)
A new re-imagining of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy sets the action in the hot Birmingham summer of 2021. In this diverse city, young people’s family loyalties give way to gang allegiance as teenagers play with adult rules. A party in the park gets out of control sparking rumours, rioting and revenge. In the midst of rivalries, first tastes of freedom and sparks of a full-on first love ignite. Two young lovers are led to their tragic deaths by events they can’t control.
The 75-minute performance is set to Birmingham-based composer Annie Mahtani’s soundtrack which blends Berlioz’ classical ‘Roméo et Juliette’ score with her original electro-acoustic composition.
Rehearsals are currently operating with social distancing in place. In the final few weeks, the cast will form a ‘bubble’ and performances will take place without social distancing or masks.
BEHIND ROMEO + JULIET: THE RESEARCH
Romeo + Juliet is created collaboratively by Rosie Kay and the original cast of nine dancer-choreographers skilled in contemporary, street and Indian classical dance styles. Performed by the original cast: Mayowa Ogunnaike (Juliet), Subhash Viman Gorania (Romeo), David Devyne (Tybalt), Deepraj Singh (Merc), Iona McGuire (Angel), Harry Ondrak-Wright (LJ), Dan Baines (Paris), Ayesha Fazal (Rosa) and Patrick Webster (Ben).
Artistic Advisors include actor and director Dylan Duffus, headteacher Azita Zohhadi, Dance Artist Shanelle Clemenson and fellow Hippodrome Associates and choreographers Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri. In the making since 2015, Rosie’s inspiration was fuelled by seventeen years of living and working with the city’s communities. She also researched with pupils of Birmingham’s Nelson Mandela School, families and young people affected by crime and South Asian choreographers.
Director: Rosie Kay
Choreography by Rosie Kay, Mayowa Ogunnaike, Subhash Viman Gorania, David Devyne, Dan Baines, Deepraj Singh, Patrick Webster, Iona McGuire, Harry Ondrak-Wright & Ayesha Fazal
Producer: James Preston
Assistant Producer: Priya Appleby (Role supported by Birmingham City Council’s Cultural Diversity Fund)
Composer: Annie Mahtani
Dramaturg: Ben Payne
Designer: Louis Price
Lighting Designer: Mike Gunning
Artistic Advisors: Dylan Duffus, Azita Zohhadi, Shanelle Clemenson, Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri.
Juliet: Mayowa Ogunnaike
Tybalt: David Devyne
Paris: Dan Baines
Angel: Iona McGuire
LJ: Harry Ondrak-Wright
In association with Birmingham Hippodrome
Supported by The John Feeney Charitable Trust
May 2018 research and development supported by University of Birmingham
Panel discussion: Making a Romeo + Juliet in present-day Birmingham
Join Rosie Kay and Artistic Advisors to the project in a discussion chaired by Birmingham Hippodrome’s CEO/Artistic Director Fiona Allan. Artistic Advisors include actor and director Dylan Duffus, headteacher Azita Zohhadi, Dance Artist Shanelle Clemenson and fellow Hippodrome Associates and choreographers Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri.
Meet the Cast
Mayowa Ogunnaike became an Apprentice Dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre performing and touring in the original cast of Sharon Watson’s Windrush: Movement of The People after graduating from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with an award for ‘outstanding achievement in choreological studies’. Mayowa has since performed with Uchenna Dance Company performing and touring as the lead heroine role in the Vicki Igbokwe’s Hansel and Gretel, later joining ACE Dance and Music as a full-time company member, touring a revival of the double-bill Skin and leading various educational workshops and classes.
Photos: Stefano Padoan.
SUBHASH VIMAN GORANIA
Subhash Viman Gorania is a Leicester-based choreographer and dancer who shifts between Indian classical, urban and contemporary dance. Trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak styles, Subhash has performed internationally with recent credits including the international tour of Akademi’s award-winning The Troth – Usne Kaha Tha, choreographed by Gary Clarke, Bessie Award-winning Ecstasy for the German tour of the Apollo Theatre’s Get on the Good Foot and God’s Little Soldier with Aakash Odedra Company and Sonia Sabri’s The Nautch Girl. Subhash is Artistic Director of Morph Dance Company and is a Dance Artist in Residence at the Peepul Centre, Leicester.
Photos: Sean Goldthorpe and Mann Hans.
David Devyne has been immersed in the world of street dance, Hip-Hop and theatre from a young age and strives to continue to reach new heights in the dance/arts industry.
He is a current member of UK dance troupe Flawless, and was until recently playing Michael Jackson in the hit West End Musical Thriller Live.
Photos: Danny Baldwin.
Dan Baines is a recent Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance graduate, having previously been a member of Swindon Dance’s CAT Scheme and the National Youth Dance Company.
Dan was an apprentice at Balletboyz and most recently a member of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Young Cast in Romeo and Juliet at Sadler’s Wells.
Photo: Blair Moore.
Dancing Romeo’s right-hand troublemaker, Deepraj first started dancing in after school Capoeira sessions at the age of eight. Deepraj was awarded a scholarship whilst training at London Contemporary Dance School and has since toured internationally in productions including Akademi’s The Troth – Usne Kaha Tha, choreographed by Gary Clarke.
Photo: Lucas Adamson.
Patrick begun their dance training at DanceXchange before graduating with First Class Honours from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Patrick part of the PEER programme at Studio Wayne McGregor and partaking in New Adventures 2020/21 cohort of their professional development programme, Overture.
Photo: Emma Holt.
Juliet’s confidant, Angel, will be performed by Birmingham dancer Iona McGuire who began training on the DanceXchange CAT scheme led by Rosie Kay and Elisabetta D’Aloia, later training at London Contemporary Dance School. Photo: Chris Nash.
Harry Ondrak-Wright grew up in Wolverhampton and will be playing the final member of The C’s [Capulet] gang, ‘LJ’. Following his training at London Contemporary Dance School, Harry has just completed an international tour of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.
Photo: Chris Nash.
Merc’s cousin ‘Rosa’ will be performed by Ayesha Fazal, who after receiving a First-Class Degree from Falmouth University in Dance & Choreography has recently performed Rosemary Lee’s Passage for Par and worked with ThickSkin Theatre on the ‘Petrichor’ 360 VR project.
Photo: Ray Chan.