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A New Ballet Matches Jewish Jewliet with Nazi Romeo

It’s as terrible and offensive as it sounds.

B. Lana Guggenheim
July 07, 2017

This summer we’re bringing you daily posts from our sister site,, edited by Gabriela Geselowitz. You can find more from Jewcy here.

If the Trumpian Julius Caesar wasn’t enough controversy for this summer, another theater piece came and went on July 2 in New York: Romeo and Jewliet, spelled exactly thus. It’s a modern ballet of the Shakesperean love story set in Vienna, 1938, back in town after its debut three years ago. It is a work of the small independent ballet company, American Liberty Ballet. Predictably, with that setting, it features a romance between a Nazi soldier and a Jewish woman. The venue for this performance was Theater 80, the same place that hosted Gilad Atzmon, the “ex-Jewish” conspiracy theorist, just two months ago.

Are you noticing a theme?

My thought on when I heard about the ballet was mostly was a wordless scream of rage and disgust, summed up by this image:

But I decided to give it a chance, and let the piece speak for itself. Well, the ballet itself from an artistic standpoint, was… strange. The musical choices ranged from the Beatles and Depeche Mode to orchestral pieces, and the dancing was often out of sync. I was not sure if this was a deliberate choice, but I suspect at least some of the time, the dancers were meant to be leaping in unison, but failed to achieve it. Maybe modern ballet just isn’t for me.

I wish my frustrations lay only with my ignorance of the genre of modern dance, and not with the material itself. But lately, goyim seem to like to write stories that have Jews and Nazis falling in love with each other. Never is any Jew involved in creating these stories, because the thought of a romantic connection with someone who wants to turn us and our families into ash is not just revolting, it is impossible, and indeed sometimes the plot demands that the Jew convert, obtain false papers, and live under a new, false name. Love requires parity, and you don’t get parity when the other person doesn’t consider you human.

“Ew. That’s some slave/master love story shit,” said a friend of mine, Marisa Zimmerman, an African-American woman. She’s correct: the same dehumanization and impetus for slavery and extermination were present in the antebellum south and the Shoah both, and therefore these “love story” setups are equally revolting for the same reason. People who conceive of these stories are universally from outside our communities, and not only have no sense of our trauma, but no respect for it.

The director and sole choreographer of show is a white woman named Valerie Mae Brown, a classically trained ballet dancer from San Diego. She freely admits she has no Jewish or Rroma ancestry, and no connection to the Holocaust at all, merely a life-long fascination with the subject. “It was my mom who suggested I set a show in this era!” she told me, “and I wanted to give my lead [dancer] a present, you know, and she said: ‘Romeo and Juliet.’”

That’s it. That’s how we get this anti-Semitic garbage fire. Well-meaning ignorance and an utter disregard for the kind of trauma and society-deep sickness that genocide both causes, and requires.

Valerie doesn’t strike me as a bad person. She was smiley, sincere, and bouncy, and willing to answer any question. She created her ballet company to provide opportunities for dancers who were between companies or productions, and about half her dancers have professional backgrounds. The other half are new, or mid-level. She also expressly stated her commitment to having multiple body types cast, which is an issue in the theater and dance world, which sharply limits your opportunities if you’re a woman of color, or too tall, or curvy, or somehow don’t fit a very specific mold. She is genuinely trying to create more opportunity not just for the arts, but for the women and men who face more barriers within the field.

But in her desire to push her creative envelope, Valerie revealed her deep paucity of knowledge about the Holocaust and about Jews as living people, despite her life-long fascination with the subject. It’s a failure of intersectionality and the Jews all over again, which is a running theme these days. Is there anything more cringe-worthy than naming your heroine Jewliet, to indicate her Other-ness? Maybe only by having her love interest be a Nazi.

“Who do you write for?” she asked me.
“Just like Jewliet!”

Yes. Just like that.

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