There was new casting for the Stuttgart Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet" at Kennedy Center last night. Christopher Boatwright, an American, and Susanne Hanke, a German, were in the title roles, and there were new dancers in all major parts except for Hella Heim as Juliet's nurse. Mostly, it was a fresh, young performance that was stronger on dancing than acting.
Hanke and Boatwright are both tall for Stuttgart dancers. She has a fine, even technique and her Juliet was touching. It might have been more so if she had thrown away a few moments instead of emphasizing everything equally.
Boatwright has a splendid stretch in the legs and back and used it to the utmost, though his landings might have been neater.Balletomanes in the '40s used to wonder how black dancers would look among the whites in classical ballets. Boatwright is the Stuttgart's first black Romeo, but this is the least remarkable aspect of his appearance. There now are a few blacks in our big troupes and it turns out that skin color is no visual problem even in the old "white" ballets. Why, then, are the majority of ballet casts white? Today, it certainly isn't for lack of trained talent.