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Don Quixote by Singapore Dance Theatre (Spring 2019)

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What's Singapore Dance Theatre's ("SDT") Don Quixote? A blast of non-stop energetic engaging fun, the music carefully curated for the most interesting bits, the dancing and story never flagging (I'll be the first to admit that Sleeping Beauty's last Act is intense, and not everyone likes the endless array of swans in Swan Lake). First staged by Cynthia Harvey based muchly on the version she danced with Mikhail Baryshnikov in 2014, it was well-received enough to make it to Dance Europe's front cover back in the day - and a good choice for opening Season 2019.

 

The main principal couple ("Cast A") consisted of Uchida Chihiro and Nakamura Kenya, the leading lights of SDT, world-class technical execution - Chihiro breezing through everything with her usual pin-sharp musicality and crisp movements, as a delightfully cheeky wisp of a Kitri; Kenya powerful as always, unleashing high jumps and spins with great might (and, in a particularly heart-stopping show of perfection, terrifying the audience when, in one pas de deux, he pretended to be a slightly tipsy Basilio smiling and joking with friends while Kitri leapt for his arms - and at the last moment he turned around to catch her perfectly).

 

I was eagerly anticipating the debuts of the principal couple for the matinees ("Cast B") -- First Artiste Kwok Min Yi (who graduated in 2012 from the English National Ballet School) and Artiste Agetsuma Satoru -- as they had never performed principal roles before on any occasion - and they did not disappoint. Unafraid, energetic - they worked 'Spanish'-style flourishes into their dancing and acting, while never getting too over-the-top. Had a huge smile on my face throughout their Act 1 performance. Both are powerhouses: Min Yi has an assured, confident style of dancing (confidently working her way through the fouettes without turning a hair) and clean lines; Satoru displays superb form and incredible energy and charisma. They filled the stage with their presence and (to my mind) were a successful pas de deux couple, bringing out each other's strengths.

 

Special mention must also be made of (amongst others) the graceful, dramatic Cast A Gypsy King (Yorozu Kensuke) and (another debut) Huo Liang as the zealous Cast B Gypsy King who wove in some advanced technique in his spins (lifting his supporting leg clear off the ground in mid-spin); the incredibly light-footed Cast A Cupid (Nakahama Akira) and nimble, joyous Cast B Cupid (Beatrice Castañeda, another debut); and, most certainly, the incredibly hilarious Gamaches (Jason Carter for Cast A and Etienne Ferrère for Cast B when he was not being the suave, charming Espada).

 

Always my favourite ballet - absolute fun from start to finish.

 

For those who don't mind lengthy spoilers - rambling reviews here: Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Edited by squadron
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