Dance: A very public passion

"Two households, both alike in dignity", were Shakespeare's declared subjects in Romeo and Juliet, but they will need to be pretty large households to explain the huge cast, 140-strong, which Derek Deane is offering this week in his new production. Talk about extended families!

Encouraged by the warm response to last year's big-scale Swan Lake at the Albert Hall, English National Ballet is returning this week to the vast arena. Naturally, it wanted another popular ballet for the occasion, and what more popular work could it hope to find than Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (right)? Three street fights and the Capulets' ball should work easily enough in the round, but how do you manage to show Juliet's balcony or Friar Laurence's cell? Come to that, the bedroom scenes are not exactly going to be easy to present with half an acre of stage and an audience ranked on all sides round it. And that is one point where the massive cast can hardly help without interfering with the star-crossed lovers' privacy.

All will be revealed on Thursday, and until then the problems are for Deane to worry about; how lucky that he is such a calm, decisive person. With Swan Lake he was able to start with the standard version and adapt it to his circumstances. This time, though the company already has two treatments of the same score in its repertoire - by Rudolf Nureyev and Frederick Ashton - neither would fit the new context, so he has had to start from scratch.

Deane's production has some strong attractions. Tamara Rojo, who won all hearts in Deane's new Nutcracker last Christmas, is the first-night Juliet, dancing with Roberto Bolle, last year's glamorous guest from La Scala, Milan. And among the other casts is the beautiful Agnes Oaks, whose handsome husband, Thomas Edur, should make an ideal Mercutio. Lynn Seymour has also been tempted back once more to play Lady Capulet at some performances. They should all ensure that there is going to be plenty to watch.

'Romeo and Juliet' at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 (0171-589 8212), 18-20, 22-27 and 29-30 Jun at 7.30pm and 27 Jun at 2.30pm

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