Colorado Ballet principal dancer Sharon Wehner has loved the ballet “Romeo and Juliet” since the first time she saw it at the age of 9.
“The experience was sort of seared in my memory because it was one of the first times I saw how ballet can be so powerfully moving,” Wehner said recently. “And even at that young age, I could feel the audience affected by the ballet."
Which is why it’s fitting that Wehner will mark the end of a 22-season career with the Colorado Ballet with performances of “Romeo and Juliet,” the first of which opens Friday night at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver and runs through Feb. 25. Wehner parts ways with Colorado Ballet at the end of its 2017-2018 season.
The ballet has one more run of shows this season, the “Ballet Director’s Choice” mixed repertoire bill next month. But “Romeo and Juliet” will be Wehner’s final time dancing with the Colorado Ballet at the opera house -- a venue she’s performed at since its opening in 2005.
“It’s very special to be… sharing [this role] with an audience at this point in my career,” she says.
Colorado Ballet performs choreographer Derek Deane’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It was first created for the English National Ballet, and performed in the round. Wehner’s partner, Yosvani Ramos, recommended this version for the Denver-based company. It’s been adapted for a proscenium stage and Wehner says it "has its own flavor, but the story is very traditional."
On why she loves dancing the role of Juliet:
"I've always loved dancing ballets where there's a character that I can really sink into, that I can explore from all sorts of depths and widths. Juliet is that kind of role."
On how she’s keeping her emotions in check:
“I'm trying not to go into this [thinking about how] this is my last time in my dressing room that I've known since the opera house was built... my last time taking my curtain call… The emotions, they will come. Right now, if they start to come in, I try to set them aside because I have work [to do] that's really meaningful. If I can't do my work well, because I'm distracted by all those other emotions floating around, then I will be very unsatisfied with that final curtain call."
On how her Colorado Ballet departure doesn’t mean she’s done dancing:
"I would love to explore how my experience as a classical ballerina can transform into new ways of moving. I love telling stories as a dancer and I would love to tell different kinds of stories. So maybe not the princess story so much anymore... I'd like to see how I can expand myself as a dancer in different genres."