Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters : Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com
June 8, 2004
Don Quixote (1978): Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, Staged by Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Arranged by Jack Everly, Scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Natasha Katz, Conductor: Charles Barker, Performed by Ethan Brown as Don Quixote, Julio Bragado-Young as Sancho Panza, Paloma Herrera as Kitri, Julio Bocca as Basil, Guillaume Graffin as Gamache, Isaac Stappas as Lorenzo, Monique Meunier as Mercedes, Carlos Molina as Espada, Renata Pavam and Misty Copeland as Flower Girls, Luciana Paris and Jesus Pastor as Gypsy Couple, Michele Wiles as Queen of the Dryads, Maria Riccetto as Amour, and the Company as Waiter, Toreadors, Toreadors' Companions, Sequidillas, Gypsies, Dream Maidens, Guests at the Wedding, Townspeople, Vendors, and Children.
Don Quixote entered ABT repertoire in 1978 at the Kennedy Center in Baryshnikov's production. Vladimir Vasilev staged a different production in 1991, and the present production was performed in 1995 at the Met Opera House. (ABT Notes).
The plot centers on the adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza, as they follow the vision of Dulcinea. In Sevilla, Kitri, daughter of Lorenzo, is in love with Basilio, a poor barber. Lorenzo wishes to marry his daughter off to Gamache, a nobleman. Don Quixote sees in Kitri the vision of Dulcinea, and all three men pursue Kitri. In a Gypsy Camp, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza see Kitri and Basilio, and Don Quixote attacks a Windmill that appears to be a monster and falls asleep, dreaming of Kitri and Dulcinea. When he awakens, he thwarts Lorenzo and Gamache's search for Kitri and Basilio.
When Lorenzo "forces" Kitri to commit to Gamache, Basilio pretends to die, and Kitri tries to wed the "corpse". The awakened corpse is affianced to Kitri, Gamache disappears, and the wedding takes place onstage. Don Quixote continues to search for Dulcinea. (ABT Notes).
Tonight's Don Quixote audience did not have to wish for a bravura series of pas de deux from Ms. Herrera and Mr. Bocca, as occurred three nights prior, during ABT's new production of Raymonda. This original Petipa and Gorsky choreography included numerous opportunities for wild spins, leaps, tossing into partners' arms, ballerina lifts, and the actual walking of Mr. Bocca, with Ms. Herrera elegantly extended across his shoulders, throughout the stage. This is a balletomane's ballet, and Mr. McKenzie and Ms. Jones' staging was superb. There was energy, as well as electricity in the air, and three Acts flew by, with Gypsies, Toreadors, and Sequidillas in exotic Flamenco motifs. The operative word here is "motifs", and I momentarily longed for real Flamenco, which I am sure these very talented dancers could master, just for this one dance. An extra touch would be for the ballerinas in ruffled skirts to play their own castanets, rather than have empty fingers snapping to orchestral clicking.
Mr. Brown, as Don Quixote, exuded pathos, angst, and humor, all at once, with his mastery of the inherent theatricality of this literary role. Mr. Bragado-Young, as Sancho Panza, his sidekick, donned a quintessential costume with incredible makeup, and he showed passion for the plight of the young lovers, Kitri and Basil. Mr. Graffin, as Gamache, is no bumbling fool, but rather the lovable reject, and he developed a minor role to that of an entertaining and effective personality, who knew when to give in to the inevitable. He disappears without a duel. Mr. Stappas seems to be growing in the Company this season and was a persuasive Lorenzo, trying to marry his daughter to wealth and prestige.
Ms. Meunier was a sexy Mercedes, and the black fans tonight, with tambourines and castanets, created an ambiance of virtual Spain. In fact, Santo Loquasto's sets and costumes deserve noteworthy attention for distant castles and bullfights, a brown village, blue sky, and extravagant wedding costumes and finery. To return to the Company roles, Mr. Molina as Espada, the matador, danced a scintillating pas de deux with Ms. Meunier that brightened the intermittent darkness and re-appearing, ghostly windmill. Ms. Wiles as Queen of the Dryads and Ms. Riccetto as Amour possessed balance and presence in their solos. Ms. Wiles performed an exquisite and endless passage en pointe.
Don Quixote's Dream, following the frantic Windmill attack, is filled with "visions" of Kitri as Dulcinea, his wished-for lover, as well as 25 "Dream Maidens" from the Corps, who appear in ethereal form. Six powerful and hormonal Gypsies danced a rarified and rousing concoction, with legs lifted to the stage rafters and buoyancy that was boundless. However, there were showstoppers that upstaged even 25 "Dream Maidens" and six Gypsies, and these were the pas de deux of Ms. Herrera and Mr. Bocca, including their intertwined solos. Ms. Herrera and Mr. Bocca fed each other magic and momentum, and their wild turns and backward leaps with gravity defying lifts were mesmerizing and momentous. This was a grand night at the ballet.
Kudos to Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones for sensational staging, and kudos to Santo Loquasto for sets and costumes. A million thanks to Paloma Herrera and Julio Bocca for their bravura performance. Charles Barker brought out the best of this Minkus score.