In June this year I was lucky enough to see a performance of one of my favourite stories, Romeo and Juliet, performed by the Houston Ballet Company, one of North America’s prominent ballet companies, and choreographed by renowned Australian choreographer, Stanton Welch.
It was absolutely stunning.
I have previously seen Romeo and Juliet performed by the Australian Ballet Company, watched the traditional Franco Zeffirelli film, and read the play numerous times. The contemporary retelling from Baz Lurhmann is one of my favourite films.
But I have never before felt the emotional response to the story I felt watching the ballet that night.
Afterwards, I was reminded of the power of music. It can induce strong emotions within us. As soon as we hear music it stimulates our nervous system – making us want to move and groove. It affects the emotional brain network, causing us to find the music pleasurable or not. This emotional response then releases particular chemicals from our brain into our body, enabling us to feel anxious or calm, for example. The acoustic features of the music (loudness) and the structure of the composition (fast and slow, tension and relaxation, pauses in the music) can also trigger emotional reactions. Certain songs can evoke a memory and bring the emotions connected to that memory stored in our subconscious, bubbling up to the surface.
The elegant costumes, elaborate sets and fluidity of the dancers’ movements were all only enhanced and supported by Sergei Prokofiev’s beautiful music. The choreography was perfect – no words were necessary, the dancing truly told the drama of the story.
I laughed. I cried. It took my breath away. I was mesmerised.
What a delight to behold such creativity and talent in so many areas all coming together to produce such a feast for the senses.
By Lauren Nilsson
Sounds Like This for Kids Presenter and Early Childhood Specialist