Romeo & Juliet: The agony and ecstasy
Romeo & Juliet: The agony and ecstasy

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RAHNI SADLER: It is the greatest love story. A timeless tragedy. 'Romeo and Juliet'.

Graeme Murphy: This love is not something that is, you know, a flirtatious fling. It's about real people in a real world suffering real pain.

RAHNI SADLER: For the man they call 'The Genius', it has been agony and ecstasy, on stage and off.

Graeme Murphy: The stakes get higher, you know, the budgets get bigger.
The audiences get larger, the critics get crueller, and you go "Well, I'm still going to be out there "and taking as many chances as I can and pushing it." I want to push it for dancers.

RAHNI SADLER: Every little ballerina dreams of being Juliet. Madeleine Eastoe's journey to Juliet began with a dancing childhood in Perth... ..and a slight detour along the way for motherhood. Her daughter, Ella,
is now 2.5 years old.

RAHNI SADLER: How difficult was it to get back in shape? Back in ballet dancer shape?

Madeleine Eastoe: Yeah. I think I thought it would happen a lot quicker
but nothing gets you in shape like doing ballet. Yeah, I had to grin and bear it and get the leotard back on and, ugh. (LAUGHS).

RAHNI SADLER: For our Romeo, the ballet bug bit when he was 7. It was the year his parents separated and Kevin Jackson immersed himself in dance to cope. His mother worked three jobs to support him and his passion.

RAHNI SADLER: There must have been some days when you thought "Oh, gosh, I don't want to go to ballet?"

Kevin Jackson: Um...if there were, I don't remember them!


Kevin Jackson: I think a few times, I, um, my teacher didn't want me around because I was a little shit.

RAHNI SADLER:(LAUGHS) Why were you a little shit?

Kevin Jackson: I think just, you know, as a young boy and the only boy in the class you sort of start to become a bit naughty.

RAHNI SADLER: Coincidently, naughty Kevin was taught by Madeline's mum at the same Perth ballet school. Maddy was six years older and he was starstruck. I was always sort of looking up to her through the ballet school and then as I joined the company, I was very nervous to say hi to her. Now I'm sort of dancing with her on the big, the big ballet.

RAHNI SADLER: The rehearsals have been rigorous. Every turn, every lift, every look has been choreographed by Murphy. He expects commercial success, he demands artistic excellence.

Graeme Murphy: I long for those moments when you feel like you are flying on stage. Sometimes the coordination of the people you are working with,
your own energy, your own breathing just lifts you up and that's a miraculous feeling. It is beyond orgasm, it is beyond anything. It is that out of body experience.

Kevin Jackson: Graeme Murphy ballet is partnering, bent over in strange positions, the girls being wrapped around your body, being thrown up in the air. You're doing things that the body really shouldn't do. (LAUGHS)

Madeleine Eastoe: I really enjoy being thrown around. (LAUGHS) I don't mind having a little bit of risk.

RAHNI SADLER: For a choreographer, this is one of the toughest ballets to choreograph.

Graeme Murphy: There's too much expectation and it comes with a load of it, you know? A few hundred years of expectation, yeah. Squirm into this one - boom. It feels like the biggest ballet I've ever done, that's for sure. It really feels huge.

RAHNI SADLER: So big is this production, it employs nearly 70 dancers.

Halaina Hills: You know, one day I will look back and this will be a dream and I think, "Was that real?"

RAHNI SADLER: And even those in supporting roles, like Halaina Hills, work six long days a week. Between rehearsal and performance Romeo and Juliet is all consuming.

Halaina Hills: I certainly come straight home and have a shower and crawl into bed ready for the next day because it is really, it is exhausting and you get to Sunday, our one day off, and you think, "Oh, my gosh,
I can stay in bed all day!" And then go and do the groceries and the cleaning and the washing and, you know, preparing your pointe shoes for the next week.

RAHNI SADLER: If you believe the psychological drama 'Black Swan', every dancer wants to be the lead at any cost. But even if that day never comes
for Halaina, she'll still feel fulfilled.

Halaina Hills: I get to do what I am so passionate for and I made my career choice when I was about 15 years old so, you know, maybe there are
a lot of people out there who, at 23, are still searching for what they want, as probably when I'm 30 and I have to think about my next life, that - "Gosh, what am I going to do now?" But I don't feel like I've missed out on anything because it can be a very glamorous lifestyle.

RAHNI SADLER: There's not only glamour, there's Bollywood in Murphy's brash and brilliant interpretation of Shakespeare. But at its heart,
that timeless tale - as relevant now as the day it was penned. Of love found and fought for.....of love lost, but enduring beyond the grave. The agony and the ecstasy.

Graeme Murphy: Strange profession, strange profession. So much pain, so much pleasure, so much struggle. The cruelty of this profession is legendary so I don't long for that pain. I long for those moments when you feel like you're flying on stage, you know? It's like those
beautiful flying dreams - sometimes you have them for real as a dancer.
There are times, there are times when that magic happens and it happens for the dancer and it happens for me, the choreographer, and best of all,
it happens for an audience.

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