Ballet Review: Don Quixote

LittleBallerina: Ballet Review
Don Quixote- Ballet Nacional De Cuba

I enjoyed watching a wonderful DVD Ballet Performance tonight. Two exceptional young dancers, Romel Frometa and Viengsay Valdés of Ballet Nacional de Cuba led the exuberant version of "Don Quixote" choreographed by Alicia Alonso.

Alicia Alonso, now 82, was on hand for a standing ovation at the end of the performence, and it is worth remembering that the company is an outgrowth of the troupe she founded in 1948 in Havana with members of American Ballet Theater, where she was a star. It was amazing to see a 82 year old lady leading, teaching a whole troupe of young dancers! Counting, making sure the dancers kept up with her beat.

I like the passion, Latin movement in this idiosyncratic 1988 version of the 19th-century "Don Quixote." But most of all, I enjoyed watching the classical dancing. Alonso successfully revive the classical love story between Kitri and Basilio.

"Don Quixote" is a story about young Kitri, the vivacious heroine, and Basilio fell in love but her father plan to marry her to a pretentious, foppish rich suitor Gamache.

The feigned comic suicide of Basilio, her sweetheart, now takes on an edge of desperation, and when all is set right, with Kitri's father blessing her and Basilio , the festivities roll right into the celebrated grand pas de deux.

As Kitri, Ms. Valdés can bring the house down with her phenomenal balances on one leg, and she is very much a turner. Yet these are technical feats that are only part of the complete picture she gives. She relates to her partner and everyone onstage, fusing characterization with style and technique. Her Kitri is not a pouting poppet but a strong-minded heroine with a brain whose love for Basil radiates throughout the performance. Mr. Frometa, has preserved the pure line, beautifully pointed feet and physical resilience that he showed as a noble classical dancer a few years ago. His comic byplay with Ms. Valdés was apt, but he would, one suspects, do even better in a princely role.

This production, under Ms. Alonso's direction, keeps to the standard choreography in the set pieces that have come down from the 19th-century Russian "Don Quixote" of Marius Petipa and Aleksandr Gorsky. But much of the ensemble choreography is new and more classical, turning the vivid Spanish dances in character style into more academic pieces.

Don Quixote (Dayron Vera) and Sancho Panza (Javier Sánchez) are, as usual, secondary characters. But in the vision scene, the Don steps away from a sleeping double and becomes a classical partner to the three soloists: Sadaise Arencibia, a tall, exciting dancer with a high extension as the Queen of the Dryads; Idania La Villa, a strong dancer as Love, and Ms. Valdés, who is identified from the start with a Dulcinea double (Ivette González). Unusually, the vision scene is pictured as a 19th-century Romantic ballet in romantic tutus.

An extremely well-danced classical duet in Act III came from Jaime Diaz as the bullfighter Espada and Hayna Gutiérrez as Mercedes the street dancer. Romel Frómeta stood out in a brief solo as a Gypsy boy among the new young bullfighters and other folk. The music by Ludwig Minkus was on tape but nicely paced.