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22 days to go
There are two important fight scenes in Romeo and Juliet, in which the dancers use 22 épées.
Epée is the french word for sword. The weapons have long v-shaped blades, mounted in a rounded hand guard. For safety's sake, all the swords used in Romeo and Juliet have their ends blunted. Originally the ancestor of the épée would have been used for duelling and the sharp point used to stab your opponent.
The first fight scene takes place in the market scene during Act I - this is when the largest number of épées are used. Although there are 22 épées used during the show, they are not used at the same time. Many of the Ballet Hoo! Company have been trained to use them alongside BRB dancers. The second fight takes place in Act II but only involves principal characters, primarily Mercutio and Tybalt.
Like all complicated fights in films, plays or ballets, the Act I fight is choreographed, to make sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time and that no one gets hurt. The young people involved with Ballet Hoo! will be taking most of the parts in this battle scene when they perform Romeo and Juliet on 28 September. When they first began to learn the scene they practised with sticks until they knew the steps. In June 2006 they were finally given real épées to use. After the fights have been learnt choreographically they then start to rehearse the authenticity of the moves - putting back into the scenes the emotional content to back up the safety of the sequences.
These épées are included amongst the many props needed for Romeo and Juliet. There are hundreds of props stored at BRBís warehouses. They include anything needed on stage that isnít attached to a costume, from the apples in The Firebird, to the Door Bell from Hobsonís Choice - and anything that you care to think of inbetween. This also includes all weapons required in the Company's ballets i.e. from machine guns in Arthur Part 2 to pistols in The Nutcracker and Far from the Madding Crowd.
Any props or furniture that form a significant part of the action in a ballet, such as benches, barrels or the maypole from La Fille mal gardée, or unusual objects that effect the way a dancer dances, such as the large unwieldy hats the knights wear in Checkmate, the ribbon Lise and Colas dance with in La Fille mal gardée or swords, are brought out of the stores early and used in the rehearsal studios.