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Art

Stage is set for special Valentine’s Day shows

Cooper Rust
From left: Dance Centre Kenya's Cooper Rust with Joel Kioko who plays Romeo and Annabel Shaw (Juliet) in the ballet 'Romeo and Juliet'. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU 

Valentine’s Day weekend promises to offer several impressive performances all about romantic love.

Starting tonight with Zippy Okoth in her latest one-woman performance, this time as ‘Agatha’ who’s got many love stories to share.

“Agatha is a hopeless romantic who is ever in search of true love,” says Dr Okoth who gave us Diary of a Divorced Woman last year.

“But Agatha has nothing to do with divorce,” she adds, explaining that this solo show will be musically accompanied by keyboard.

“There will be a bit of singing amidst the stories of the men who come into Agatha’s life, starting from her teens and running into her 20s and 30s,” she adds. The one constant in the stories is Agatha’s passion for romantic love, which seems to elude her.

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Then Saturday night, Romeo and Juliet, the classic tale of romantic love, written centuries ago by William Shakespeare premieres at Kenya Nation Theatre.

Set to music for ballet by the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in the early 20th century, it’s his score that will accompany Dance Centre Ken ya’s weekend production of the beloved romantic drama.

The ballet will star two former DCK students of Cooper Rust, the former prima ballerina from the States who has popularised the art form by regularly staging ballet classics at KNT and reaching out to train youth who come all the way from Kibera to Karen.

Both Joel Kioko and Annabel Shaw were trained so well by Cooper that they went on to study dance in two of the best ballet schools in UK.

But they both had to come back home to play the leads in Romeo and Juliet. Cooper has choreographed this version of the bitter-sweet love story about two ill-fated young lovers whose love was never meant to be.

They are the children of warring families whose differences are bitter and intractable. Yet somehow these two find one another and momentarily are in bliss.

It cannot be a spoiler to say that their love is short-lived and tragic since many people know at least a bit about the story.

But even if one knows the story by heart, those who love the dance won’t tire of watching this dramatic tale unfold or hearing the glorious music of Prokofiev. Two guest dancers who flew in especially to be in the ballet are Cooper’s former dance partner, Yigit Erhan and his brother Baris.

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