‘Don Quixote’ Cuban-style

2011-09-27 00:00

BALLET audiences are in for a real treat when Mzansi Productions brings the full-length classical ballet, Don Quixote, to the Playhouse Opera Theatre in Durban from Thursday to October 5.

It’s the first time since the mid-nineties that dance fans will be treated to the three-act version of this classic, which features both leading South African ballet dancers, 18 Cuban dancers and other international dancers.

Adding another layer to the show will be the costumes, drawn from the State Theatre, the Don Quixote ballet, Cuba and even Canada, and new sets, designed by Andrew Botha, which will fill the stage and colour the production.

The Mzansi Productions staging, which is based on the acclaimed Cuban version, is set in bustling Barcelona and tells a story of the triumph of young love over parental match-making. The beautiful, audacious Kitri and the dashing but poor Basilio are determined to marry, but Kitri’s father has more ambitious plans for his daughter.

Speaking to The Witness, the director of the company, Dirk Badenhorst, said he decided to stage the ballet because he loved both the story and music of Don Quixote.

“Add to this the talented dancers of Mzansi Productions and the Cuban latino style, and you have a very good reason to stage this showcase of exciting ballet,” he added.

Asked how the relationship with the Cuban dancers had come about, Badenhorst said he had always admired Cuban ballet dancers, as well as the wonderful support they received from their government.

He added: “In 2008, I was fortunate finally to visit Cuba, and with the assistance of Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, met Ismael ­Albelo, who became my main contact in Cuba. He introduced me to Alicia Alonso, artistic director of the National Ballet School of Cuba, Ramona de Saa, director of the National Ballet School of Cuba, and Fernando Alonso, the father of the Cuban ballet-training system.

“Over six more visits to Cuba, he introduced me to more leaders in ballet and dance in Cuba. We have also had wonderful support from the Cuban Embassy in South Africa, from Angel Villa and Ibete Fernandez.”

Badenhorst said the Cuban dancers brought a wonderful virtuoso style to the production as their style featured many pirouettes, big jumps, long balances and fiery temperaments.

“Coupled with their passion, commitment and love for ballet, I think it [Don Quixote] will make for spectacular viewing,” he said. “I guarantee our patrons leaving the theatre inspired and happy hearted by super ballet.”

• Don Quixote will be performed in the Playhouse Opera Theatre in Durban at 7.30 pm, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, October 4 and October 5. There are also matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday at 2.30 pm. Tickets are R80, R100, R120 and R160, and can be booked through Computicket.

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