Finally managed to review the Don Quixote live-streamed performance from last Tuesday. My local Odeon was about three quarters full which was good compared to other ballet live-streams. Good to have Kristin MacNally as one of the presenters - good clear voice and of course, she’s got all the dance background knowledge required. She could probably have another career as a presenter.
I have only seen Acosta’s version of this ‘not so favourite of mine’ ballet just once before tonight’s - I must admit I didn’t think it was the best version either. However, it’s definitely grown on me after a second viewing and I really enjoyed it.
As has been discussed previously here, the principal roles were danced by Akane Takada (Kitri) and Alexander Campbell (Basilio). I thought Takada was magnificent - beautifully secure technique and elevation. She outshone Campbell who I thought, was dancing slightly under parr. He seemed to smirk rather than smile, which was slightly annoying at times and more noticeable during the close ups of the dancers on the livestream. It didn’t help that Basilio’s costume was rather dull compared to other male dancer’s. I hardly noticed him come onto the stage. I think Takada is one of the greatest ballet technicians currently - all precision, control, beautiful upper body and she has exciting speed and elevation. I also think that she is developing into a fine artiste - the icing on the cake.
Valentino Zuchetti was smouldering as Espada and again, he is also a fine technician and his variation was beautifully danced with great style and elegance. Mayara Magri did quite a fine job as Mercedes, but I think she needs to develop her acting skills as I don’t always find that her characterisation is convincing.
I thought the male dance artistes were all on fine form in the ensemble dances - some great talent and noticeable were all the Beggar boys led by Francesco Serrano. Stand outs were Harris Bell, Lucas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, the amazing Joseph Sissens (first artiste) and Stanislaw Węgrzyn with his guitar.
I couldn’t help notice Nadia Mullova Barley and Yu Hang (previous PDL Gold medalist) acting their hearts out and putting everything into their dancing. Sae Maeda was noticeable for her stage presence and must be one to watch.
The Dryads scene was a treat and I love those stunning tutus - adorable Anna Rose O’Sullivan as Amour and those beautiful courus en pointe. I think I preferred Melissa Hamilton’s Dryad Queen to Fumi Kaneko’s (and I’m a big fan of hers) - I just felt it was a little ‘brittle’ and not as smooth, soft and dream-like as Hamilton’s.
The character artistes were suitably entertaining and Philip Mosley was outstanding in his hilarious portrayal of Sancho Panza.
Beatrix Stix Brunell’s strong characterisation and dancing outshone Yuhui Choe as Kitri’s friends. Choe doesn’t have the same attack that Beatrix SB has for this type of role.
All in all, Don Quixote is a great spectacle ballet with a ‘white act’ and a grand pas de deux containing an array of balletic fireworks to conclude. I do like the guitar players but I’m not sure about that shouting by the corps - do they really need to do that?
I wont miss it if I don’t see it for a while though - but this is just my humble opinion.