Review: ‘Hamlet’ at The Washington Ballet

Hamlet, a modern, dramatic contemporary ballet based on William Shakespeare’s original, The Tragedie of Hamlet, published in 1603 premieres in The Kennedy Center. An “ongoing dialogue between Shakespeare and the language of dance,” says The Washington Ballet’s Artistic Director, Septime Webre, appears through the choreography of Stephen Mills and musical composition by Philip Glass.

Elaborate, substantial, and even synonymous, the works of movement, rhythm and visuals intertwine within the words of Shakespeare. The transfer of weight through air and space embody the Soliloquies of the tragedy and automatically transpire through time. The relevance of Shakespeare to the 21st century is important as his canonicity thrives.

Jonathan Jordan as Hamlet. Photo by Theo Kossenas.

Brooklyn Mack. Photo by Theo Kossenas.

The inner thoughts “O, that this too, too sullied flesh would melt,” revealed by Hamlet, wishing to die after his father’s death, danced in part by Jonathan Jordan, flourishes through the stylistic contemporary form of ballet. Sharp angles, circular movements, and even attitude turns in plie are signature to Mills choreography.

Jonathan Jordan as Hamlet and his counterparts Hamlet II-IV, Daniel Roberge, Andile Ndlovu, and Javier Morera perfectly mirror each other and are synchronous in movement. Hamlet’s sanity is obviously at the ranks throughout the whole ballet, and these four gentlemen exhibit this exceptionally.

The scenic design by Stephen Mills and Jeffrey Main support the lines of Shakespeare interpreted through choreography. Ophelia, danced by Maki Onuki, dances into madness through water placed upstage and drowns in suspense with lighting by Tony Tucci and Chad Jung, that resembles her underwater.

Brooklyn Mack. Photo by: Theo Kossenas.

Venus Villa by media4artists Theo Kossenas.

The musical composition of Philip Glass, another necessary element for this ballet, truly lays down a foundation which allows the dancers to move their bodies amongst and against the notes. Madness beseeches those in turmoil with the darkness of Glass’s composition, whilst moments of melancholy are pervasive in nature.

Ashley Murphy and Stephanie Sorota, whom are in their first season with the company casted in the female ensemble, dance elegantly sur la pointe with proper usage of their epaulement.

Brooklyn Mack and Francesca Dugarte by media4artists Theo Kossenas

Brooklyn Mack and Francesca Dugarte by media4artists Theo Kossenas

In two acts, The Washington Ballet, portrays an original five-act tragedy. With essential elements upholding the ballet, the company dance transitions of choreography and scenes of Hamlet. Through arabesques and moments of stillness, the homage of Shakespeare is told.

Now that Julie Kent, former Principal Ballerina with The American Ballet Theatre, will be the new Artistic Director of the company, one is curious to see where the future of The Washington Ballet is headed.

Running Time: 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.


The Washington Ballet performs Hamlet through Sunday, April 3, 2016, at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324, or purchase them online.

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