Review – Don Quixote goes pop in Joburg

2013-03-17 10:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Don Quixote expects acrobatics from the dancers over and above the usual precise and perfect balance required of ballet dancers. To achieve this, male dancers must do much more than lift their female colleagues into the air.

They need to do plenty of ensemble work and a load of solos, making this easily the most whizz-bang-wow of the ballets you can go and see. If you are a ballet beginner, this one’s good to start with as it shows off the artform in all its glory.

The ballet, originally choreographed by Russian impressario Marius Petipa and later revamped by Alexander Gorsky, has little to do with the Spanish literary character that gives it its name.

Rather, the errant knight in search of windmills to slay and his trusty servant Sancho Panza travel through the action, giving it a thread of narrative and reminding us all of chivalry’s place in romance.

Most of all, though, Don Quixote’s appearance allows for the ballet to be set in Spain, so that it can include castanets aplenty as well as rip-snorting bullfighting dance scenes and a passionately choreographed pas de deux.

This pared-down version – originally it’s four acts and eight scenes, here it’s two acts and five scenes – is the first full-length ballet to be put on by the newly formed SA Mzansi Ballet. It brings together the significant talents of the SA Ballet Theatre and Mzansi Productions; and includes the imported talents of Washington Ballet’s Brooklyn Mack, Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Michaela DePrince, a selection of Cuban dancers, and Australian Aaron Smyth.

This version has been staged by the company’s Iain McDonald, Angela Malan and Lauren Dixon-Seager with Cuban ballet mistress Ana Julia Bermudez de Castro.

In each performance, the dancers change roles and with this being such a physically demanding ballet with a large proportion of solos, one dancer can’t repeat the same role night after night.

On opening night, Mack danced the role of Basilio, the peasant barber whom Kitri (danced by Sanmarie Kreuzhuber) falls for, much to her father’s dismay. He wants her to marry Gamache (played with comical aplomb by Keke Chele). Don Quixote steps into the breach – largely by accident – to see that the young lovers find their happy endings.

Kreuzhuber had a wobbly start on the night, taking an early tumble, but she came back to do a mostly solid job. It was disappointing, though, that she wasn’t able to do the pas de deux with as much precision and grace. She was unable to hold the difficult pose as required; but as the run progresses, she is likely to find her balance easier.

It was Kreuzhuber’s first time in a principal role on opening night, and everyone has to have a first time. But ballet regulars like me were expecting the eternally graceful Burnise Silvius to be Kitri on opening night. Although it’s not fair to compare anyone to her, it seemed inevitable as she perfected this very same pas de deux for one of the company’s showcases last year.

Sexy and athletic, graceful and strong, Mack is polished as Basilio. He arrived in South Africa a mere four days before opening night, but you wouldn’t have guessed. Ditto the entire cast, they have been rehearsing for some time, but the infusion of the visiting dancers was seamless.

Cuban Javier Monier’s flawless solos tower in the imagination and Claudia Monja is always a pleasure to watch. The ensemble work is without fault. The dream scene is exquisite and I could watch the bullfighters all over again. Olé.

»?Don Quixote runs at the Nelson Mandela Theatre at the Joburg Theatre Complex until March 24. To book, visit www.joburgtheatre.com or 0861?670?670

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.