Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights

From the Ballet, Romeo and Juliet

Sergei Prokofiev at Piano
Sergei Prokofiev at Piano. Bettmann / Getty Images


Sergey Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights, also known as the Montagues and Capulets, is an extremely popular piece of music from his ballet, Romeo and Juliet. There's no denying that Dance of the Knights is definitely an emotionally charged piece of music. With the strong horns and bass on the bottom and a powerful and electric melodic line played by unison strings, Prokofiev's dark and brooding passages can send chills up your spine and set your heart racing.


Though Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is one of his most popular works today, it wasn't met with such fanfare when he presented it to the ballet companies. Romeo and Juliet was set to premiere at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, but they told him that the music was too difficult to choreograph. He was also told that his original ending of Romeo and Juliet reuniting had to be rewritten. Prokofiev finally gave in to their demands and rewrote the ending to be as tragic as Shakespeare had intended, but they still passed on performing the ballet. Finally, in 1938, his ballet premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia. But it wasn't until the Stuttgart Ballet's performance of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet in 1962, choreographed by John Cranko, that it caught the world's attention. Since then, there have been numerous productions, each giving a fresh and unique interpretation of the ballet, that have been met with high accolade.