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Rosie Kay's New ROMEO + JULIET Announces Cast and Creative Team

The production will premiere at the Birmingham Hippodrome on 17 March 2021. 

Commonwealth Games Handover Ceremony choreographer Rosiea??Kay's new production of Romeo + Juliet sets the tragedy in Birmingham, in the midst of summer 2021 in a realm of forbidden love amongst gang allegiances. Rosie Kay Dance Company has announced the complete Romeo + Juliet cast and creative team including Subhash Viman Gorania and Mayowa Ogunnaike who will be playing the title roles, respectively, for the production which will premiere at the Birmingham Hippodrome on 17 March 2021.

Rosie Kay's Romeo + Juliet is a new interpretation of Shakespeare's iconic tragedy, re-told through the lens of 21stcentury gang culture, set in the stiflingly hot Birmingham summer of 2021. A diverse cast of young athletic performers represent the city in a riotous new dance piece which explores knife crime, gang-allegiances and the intricacies of forbidden love across racial boundaries between Black and South Asian communities. Rosie Kay's Juliet is a strong, intelligent and athletic young Black female whose older brother is a dominant gang leader. The balance is upset when Juliet falls for Romeo, a young South Asian male dedicated to his own gang and their rivalries but at heart an artist and dreamer.

Rosie Kay is renowned for creating meaningful dance with research at its heart that challenges potent issues. In the making since 2015, she presents her Birmingham Romeo + Juliet following seventeen years of living with and working with the city's communities and five years of research with pupils of Birmingham's Nelson Mandela School, South Asian choreographers and on the beat with West Midlands Police. Artistic Advisors to the project include actor and director Dylan Duffus, headteacher Azita Zohhadi and choreographers Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri.

Romeo + Juliet will premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome on Wednesday 17 March 2021.

Rehearsals are currently being operated with social distancing in place. In the final few weeks, the cast will form a 'bubble' and the performance will take place without social distancing.

'Juliet' will be performed by Mayowa Ogunnaike, who became an Apprentice Dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre performing and touring in the original cast of Sharon Watson's Windrush: Movement of The People after graduating from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with an award for 'outstanding achievement in choreological studies'. Mayowa has since performed with Uchenna Dance Company performing and touring as the lead heroine role in the Vicki Igbokwe's Hansel and Gretel, later joining ACE Dance and Music as a full-time company member, touring a revival of the double-bill Skin and leading various educational workshops and classes.

'Romeo' will be played by Subhash Viman Gorania, a Leicester-based choreographer and dancer who shifts between Indian classical, urban and contemporary dance. Trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak styles, Subhash has performed internationally with recent credits including the international tour of Akademi's award-winning The Troth - Usne Kaha Tha, choreographed by Gary Clarke, Bessie Award-winning Ecstasy for the German tour of the Apollo Theatre's Get on the Good Foot and God's Little Soldier with Aakash Odedra Company and Sonia Sabri's The Nautch Girl. Subhash is Artistic Director of Morph Dance Company and is a Dance Artist in Residence at the Peepul Centre, Leicester.

Deepraj Singh will be dancing Romeo's right-hand troublemaker 'Merc'. Deepraj was awarded a scholarship whilst training at London Contemporary Dance School and has since toured internationally in productions including Akademi's The Troth - Usne Kaha Tha, choreographed by Gary Clarke.

'Tybalt' will be performed by David Devyne, who is a current member of UK dance troupe Flawless, and was until recently playing Michael Jackson in the hit West End Musical Thriller Live.

Recent Rambert graduate Dan Baines will be playing 'Paris'. Dan was an apprentice at Balletboyz and most recently a member of Matthew Bourne's New Adventures Young Cast in Romeo and Juliet at Sadler's Wells.

'Angel', Juliet's confidant, will be performed by Birmingham dancer Iona McGuire who began training on the DanceXchange CAT scheme led by Rosie Kay and Elisabetta D'Aloia, later training at London Contemporary Dance School.

Also having begun their dance training at DanceXchange, Patrick Webster will perform the role of 'Ben'. Patrick is part of the PEER programme at Studio Wayne McGregor and partaking in New Adventures 2020/21 cohort of their professional development programme, Overture.

Merc's cousin 'Rosa' will be performed by Ayesha Fazal, who has recently performed Rosemary Lee's Passage for Par and worked with ThickSkin Theatre on the 'Petrichor' 360 VR project.

Harry Ondrak-Wright, who grew up in Wolverhampton, will be playing the final member of The C's [Capulet] gang, 'LJ'. Harry has just completed an international tour of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

Romeo + Juliet is produced by James Preston and the creative team reunites RKDC regular collaborators including Birmingham Composer Annie Mahtani, Dramaturg Ben Payne, Designer and film-maker Louis Price and Lighting Designer Mike Gunning. Artistic Advisors to the project include Birmingham actor and director Dylan Duffus, Headteacher Azita Zohhadi and choreographers Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri. Priya Appleby joins the company as Assistant Producer, a role supported by Birmingham City Council's Cultural Diversity Fund.

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