Of Juliet and her Romeo

Sam Wilson and Mallory Morrison practice their choreography for Peninsula Dance Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Sam Wilson and Mallory Morrison practice their choreography for Peninsula Dance Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

Next weekend’s two performances of the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” are backed by decades of experience.

Peninsula Dance Theatre, the local troupe presenting the ballet, is concluding its 29th season with this production. Its artistic director Lawan Morrison has been teaching the performance art for 43 years and has owned the Bremerton Dance Center for 39 years. Several of the cast have past professional experience and others, like principal dancer Mallory Morrison, have been at it since they were toddlers.

Mallory, a junior at Bremerton High School, dances the role of Juliet opposite Sam Wilson, a senior at CK High School, in the role of Romeo. Her grandmother Lawan has been teaching her to plié since the age of three.

She and other Peninsula Dance Theatre members have been rehearsing five days a week in preparation for next weekend.

“I just like the way it feels on my body,” Mallory said of performing the role of Juliet. “I can’t really explain it, it just feels good.”

Sam, too, is getting into his character, the largest part he’s played so far.

“I can really relate to him a lot,” Sam said. His biggest challenge in the role of Romeo is a succession of difficult lifts over an eight-minute period. He’s been training by not only practicing pirouettes, but also by spending some time in the weight room and swimming to improve his endurance.

A total of about 40 dancers will act out William Shakespeare’s tragic romance on the stage of the Admiral Theatre on May 10 and 11. Other cast members include Lorien Menna as Lady Capulet, Charlie Wilson as Lord Capulet, Amanda Johnson as Rosaline, Chris Williams as Mercutio, Chris Acker as Benvolio, Forrest Stieber as Tybalt, Dexter Deam as Paris, Anna Acker as the Nurse and Sherman Arnold as Friar Laurence. They will be accompanied by the Peninsula Ballet Orchestra playing the score by Sergei Prokofiev.

Until then, the cast has been rehearsing to the sounds of a past year’s performance by the company, complete with applause. Lawan cranks up the volume on an older television set as the video plays, and when the tape cuts out she adds her own “dah-dah-dahs” to keep the dancers in step until the sound returns.

She has one more week to perfect their leaps, their expressions and to remind them not to smile as they push each other across the floor during the fighting scenes between the Capulets and the Montagues.

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