The ballet Don Quixote
was first performed at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre on 26 December 1869, produced and choreographed by Marius Petipa.
Carlos Acosta, having danced in the ballet all over the world, responded immediately when he was invited to revive the concept for the Royal Opera House and for 21st
century audiences. The short documentary that accompanies the ballet shows his great enthusiasm for it and how he approached the task as both producer and choreographer. Whilst concerned to preserve its basic classical style, he wanted to overlay a freer more spontaneous element, injecting more colour, more humour. He also intended something of spontaneous fun and pantomime even, reflecting real life: dancing on tables and carts and allowing the men to be really manly and arrogant.
The Blu-ray version brings out all the gorgeous colours of the costumes, so well style-matched for associated dancers (Espada and Mercedes for instance) yet subtly differently patterned for each individual dancer. The lighting is excellently conceived, very bright to show every joyous detail in the scenes in the town square and subtly muted for the dream episode in the garden of the dryads and the more formal tutu-skirted dances. The very imaginative sets are nicely designed with a solid, appealing-looking town square and a sinister, shadowy, self-turning windmill. Don Quixote’s horse is reminiscent of The Warhorse if not so sophisticated.
The Minkus music, so attractive and atmospheric, appeals, especially the Spanish dance music which is vibrant and colourful. Without being particularly memorable in its own right, it is nevertheless admirably fit for purpose in lifting the dancing. Acosta’s choreography is a joy. He took great pains in coaching each and every dancer. Quixote, himself, never dances. He is the glue, so to speak, binding the stories and aspirations of the characters around him especially those of the young lovers Kitri and Basilio — danced by Nuñez and Acosta — their hopes jeopardised by her father who wants her to marry the rich, foppish Gamache. The chemistry between Nuñez and Acosta is palpable, their partnership so harmonious, so graceful, so deliciously romantic and passionate in their pas de deux
. Costa has also conceived brilliant virtuoso solo dances for them both. Additionally there are striking, eye-catching character dances and ensembles for the rest of the cast. I must mention, especially, the joyous and charming dancing of Ryoichi Hirano and Laura Morera.
A triumph for the ROH and for Acosta.
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