Mats Ek hasn't done a full length story ballet for quite some time and this one is a great way to mark his return. If you are not familiar with Mats Ek's work, it cannot really be described very well in words. His choreography is very distinctive, but never dull. His work is energetic, very active, and quite a bit of fun. He has said he does not try to make his movements pretty(perhaps that accounts for its distinctive appearance), but once you get used to it, it is pretty. He started his career as a classical ballet dancer and we can see that influence in his choreography of today. There remains a core of classical structure, even if it is a bit hidden. As far as the story goes, he never tells a story in any conventional way. Even the title of this ballet is a departure from what is expected. He reverses it to read "Juliet and Romeo". But he is not the first to suggest this title. In fact, it is the very last line that Shakespeare, himself, wrote in the play: "For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
The Royal Swedish Ballet has had a long association with Ek and they are very familiar with his style, so they work perfectly with him. They dance magnificently in this. One of Ek's muses, Ana Laguna, appears here as the nurse. She was the lead dancer in Ek's "Giselle" (if you have never seen that one, be prepared for a bit of a shock!). It is good to see her again.
Ek has chosen a variety of Tchaikovsky's music for this and he uses it to great advantage. The staging is basic and bleak but the overall look is impressive and exciting.
The only shortcoming to this DVD is a nearly complete lack of chapter divisions. There are only two main divisions: Act 1 and Act 2. While the ballet itself is well sectioned into specific events, there are no chapter divisions to go along with them. Additionally, there is no description in the notes to any of the divisions in the ballet and this also makes identifying events and dancers difficult, since the story is not so easy to pick out of the bizarre presentation. The only complete list of credits(other than the corps de ballet) is on the DVD in the closing credits. There is also no bonus material except for several trailers.
If you are up to artistic challenges and like modern ballets that push the envelope, you will enjoy this.