Based on the beloved novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, DON QUIXOTE has been one of the most popular and challenging ballets for over a century.
Legendary choreographer Marius Petipa and composer Ludwig Minkus created their version in 1869 for Ballet of the Imperial Bolshoi Theater of Moscow. Since then, it has been performed countless times by ballet dancers around the world. For Pennsylvania Ballet, this is a monumental performance: it’s the first presentation of the full-length ballet since the company’s founding in 1963.
An opening night standing ovation testified to their success. Although one or two moments suggest room for improvement, the dancers’ devotion and joy to be the part of the performance grab the audience’s heart.
The main role of Basilio is one of the most difficult and rewarding parts for a male ballet dancer. Etienne Diaz performs his Basilio energetically and charmingly in a somewhat reckless but highly competent dance style.
Mayara Pineiro, in the other main role Kitri, is also powerful and magnetic. Her 32 grand fouette in act three is nothing but brave. She manages her fouette with several pirouettes at a time, more than once, and perfectly finishes the highlight of the role. She does not show any fear of tumbling or of failing the difficult pas that could make even well-experienced professional dancers nervous, after constant dancing for more than an hour.
Oksana Maslova, Queen of the Dryads, draws the viewers to the dream of Don Quixote with her graceful and elegant variation.
The Spanish artistic director Angel Corella introduced tasteful ideas to give Pennsylvania Ballet’s DON QUIXOTE a real feeling of Spain. He brought in live musicians to play “proper flamenco music” to choreography that reflects real flamenco dance for act two’s “Gypsy Dance”. The stage set was selected by Corella himself, and brought from Florida to bring the color of Madrid (the city in which he was born and raised) to the Academy of Music theater, .
Bringing the full-length DON QUIXOTE to the stage requires so much effort and resources: highly talented dancers, a rich corps de ballet, an orchestra capable of handling the lengthy score with delicate attention to the dance, gorgeous costumes, and elaborate stage sets. This production delivers. The progress and achievement Pennsylvania Ballet has shown in the short period of time since Corella was appointed as the artistic director is remarkable.
The company presents these and other talented dancers in the main roles until the curtain closes on March 13. What a great opportunity to experience world class ballet in Philadelphia.
[The Academy of Music, 240 S Broad St] March 3-13, 2016; paballet.org.