With today being International Women’s Day, I would like to acknowledge some of the leading female roles in Classical Ballet Productions. Females play a huge role in the world of ballet and these three women have stood out to me as strong, independent, female characters.
Here are my top three picks.
Romeo & Juliet
Juliet - Rebel
Romeo and Juliet are known for being one of the most romantic ballets of their time. But it has to be noted that with all of its romance, Juliet is quite the rebel and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. Juliet is being forced to marry a man, Paris by her parents. She does not love him, and will never. She has fallen deeply in love with a man, Romeo whose families are rivals making it impossible to come out with their love for each other. They plan to marry in secret. Juliet must make a sacrifice. Being forced to marry Paris, she takes a potion which is to make her seem “dead”. Romeo is to be notified of this, but he never receives the message of her plan and ends up killing himself at her deathbed. As she wakes, she sees her Romeo dead and decides that if she must live a life of lies and not being true to herself, she would rather be dead, and kills herself to be forever with Romeo.
Kitri - Independent
Kitri sparks everyone’s attention as soon as she hits the stage. She is stubborn, independent, fiery, and full of excitement! Kitri falls in love with Basilio, her longtime friend who is a barber and does not make much money. Her father disapproves and wants her to be wed to Gamache, a wealthy nobleman. Kitri doesn’t allow this to stop her from pursuing her love for Basilio and fights for what she believes in. In the end, she stands for her own beliefs and marries the love of her life, Basilio.
Esmeralda - Strong
La Esmeralda is not a very popular ballet and is rarely performed here in the states. I have found the ballet for its time, created in the 1800s. Esmeralda is a gypsy that undergoes the struggles and abuse that women had to deal with at this time, and still even today! She is forced to marry a poet under gypsy law and is also adored by the Priest Frollo. Frollo orders Quasimodo to capture Esmeralda and is then saved by Captain Phoebus. Phoebus sees Esmeralda for who she is and the two fall in love. As noted in the Disney version, Esmeralda is an outcast and is treated with poor respect by many of the people surrounded by her. Frollo frames Esmeralda of murder by stabbing her beloved Phoebus. In the end, as Esmeralda is being sentenced to death, Phoebus appears alive and well and is able to protect Esmeralda, allowing them to live a happy life together.