Romeo & Juliet Suite — LA Dance Project

Choreographer Benjamin Millepied's stunning ballet about the Bard's star-crossed lovers is coming to Sydney (and Australia) for the first time.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 03, 2024


"For never was a story of more woe," said William Shakespeare of Romeo & Juliet. To be accurate, he had the iconic play announce that itself in its second-last line. In the four centuries since the famed tale was first penned, never was there a tragic romance that's better known, either. Few works have been adapted and performed as much as this story of the warring Montague and Capulet families, and the heartbreak that ensues when their children fall in love — but Benjamin Millepied's Romeo & Juliet suite still stands out.

Sydney audiences can now discover why for themselves, with the world-famous choreographer's take on Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers making its Aussie debut. Playing exclusively at the Sydney Opera House from Wednesday, June 5–Sunday, June 9, the ballet is filling the Joan Sutherland Theatre and other spaces with a mix of dance, theatre and cinema that defies genres, as well as a modernisation of the narrative that sees love first, not gender.

Three versions comprise the suite, each with a different couple. On the production's first night and its Saturday matinee, an all-male pairing will bring Romeo & Juliet to life. On the second evening and the Saturday night, two female dancers will play the lead parts. And on the Friday and Sunday, a male-female duo will take to the stage.

Millepied's Romeo & Juliet hails from the LA Dance Project, which he co-founded and acts as its Artistic Director. The company's ensemble are performing on the opera house's stage and also throughout the building, which is then broadcast live back to the audience inside the Joan Sutherland Theatre. So, the Romeo & Juliet suite plays with form, too — and even if you think you've seen every iteration of R&J before, this one is unique.

Bringing the ballet Down Under for the first time marks Millepied's latest project in Australia. His last: making his film directorial debut with Carmen, which starred Melissa Barrera (Abigail) and Paul Mescal (All of Us Strangers), reimagined Prosper Mérimée's novella and Georges Bizet's opera, and shot in the outback New South Wales town of Broken Hill.

The dancer, choreographer and filmmaker's resume before that spans joining the New York Ballet as a teen, choreographing and co-starring in Black Swan, a stint as Paris Opera Ballet's Director of Dance and creating the sandwalk for Denis Villeneuve's versions of Dune.

Images: Julien Benhamou, Paul Bourdrel and Josh Rose.


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