Alison Epsom as Juliet, City Opera Ballet premiere 2016. Photo by Rex Tranter

Alison Epsom as Juliet, City Opera Ballet premiere 2016. Photo by Rex Tranter

Romeo & Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a classical ballet (with a contemporary flare) created for casts of 14-20 dancers based on the play by William Shakespeare. A full-length ballet, it is comprised of two acts of 45 minutes, for a run-time of 90 minutes. It also features a compelling original score by Jon Steinmeier.  

The piece debuted in 2016 on City Opera Ballet in Bellevue, WA. 


Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio. Photo by Rex Tranter

Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio. Photo by Rex Tranter

This piece is a look into the lesser-known aspects of the story of Shakespeare’s most famous lovers. We see parts of the ballet, parts of the story, rarely staged: Juliet as a beloved only child, for instance, Tybalt as a dear friend to the Nurse, and the intimate web of relations often missed, like the slain Mercutio, cousin to the Prince who ordered civil peace.

In this intimate ballet, Willett attempts to look beyond the big tragic moments of the well-known story into the characters who lived those moments: first love, the death of a close relative, filial obligation. Two hearts that couldn’t be joined in life are united in a death that is not sweet, but a warning: to seek concord among social/political differences, among family, among those who love but don’t fully understand us.

This version attempts to wring life out of these deaths, while doing justice to the story’s other remarkable contrasts: love and hate, youth and age, a funeral on a wedding day. Willett’s Romeo and Juliet is more than a story of pretty teenage lovers, but of voyagers across the barriers that separate forbidden loves, but also creeds, cities, and our own mortalities.


This production features an original score, commissioned by City Opera Ballet, composed by Jonathan Steinmeier. This will be the one of the first times in eighty years, that an all new score of Romeo and Juliet has been made for a full-length ballet, since Prokofiev’s Op. 64 in 1935.

Steinmeier’s music goes hand-in-hand with the ballet's vocabulary of movement, as it is tailored for the plot-scenario and themes employed in the work. Moving, cinematic, and highly percussive, Steinmeier’s score links with Willett’s emotional and relatable portrayal of the elation of first love, family discord, and the weight of grief.


Media coverage for the production included articles in Westside Seattle, the Bellevue Reporter, and Seattle Dances


Trailer for Amber Willett’s Romeo and Juliet


If you would like to stage Romeo and Juliet (full length, or excerpts) on your company, or to see further video samples , please contact me.