Benjamin Millepied’s ‘Romeo and Juliet Suite’ shows different forms of love

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“The way that [inspiration] came to me was that I actually felt the music resonated more so as film music than as stage music,” Benjamin Millepied says of his multimedia approach to “Romeo and Juliet Suite.” Photo by Josh S. Rose.

This weekend, the American debut of LA Dance Project’s “Romeo and Juliet Suite” will take place at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It is a multimedia production featuring steadicam work both on and off the stage, and an ever-changing mixed-gender cast.

“I first started to approach this idea through cinema,” says Benjamin Millepied, LA Dance Project’s artistic director. “And then because I've used video on stage for a long time, I started to think about what if I use the camera as a tool in front of the audience to actually portray these moments of drama that will feel much more visceral and realistic as cinema than they would onstage?” 

His first iteration of this production was at Disney Concert Hall, where he used space throughout the building, adding to the drama. “The whole idea was: Nothing is recorded, it happens before the eyes of the audience. So in a way, the theater becomes a set for a murder, it becomes a set for dance.”

Beyond the multimedia approach, he also cast a rotating set of lead actors. One night, you may find a man and a woman on stage. Another night: a woman and a woman, or a man and a man. This was important to him in portraying the “timeless universal love story.”

“I think it's quite beautiful in the way that this is one of the most famous love stories –– let's have it represented by different forms of love,” says Millepied.