The National Ballet of Cuba opened at the City Center on Wednesday night with Don Quixote. Anna Kisselgoff reviews in the Times.
Those looking for passion, Latin or otherwise, will find it in this idiosyncratic 1988 version of the 19th-century "Don Quixote." But most of all, they will see the classical dancing, even academic precision, on which Ms. Alonso and her ballet mistress Josefina Méndez insist.
This "Don Quixote" is typical of the company because it is a production filled with dramatic motivation. There are many changes from standard versions, but these changes make sense and fill out details that explain much of the action. The tavern scene that opens Act III is not just for heavy drinkers but the setting for the planned wedding of Kitri, the vivacious heroine, and her foppish rich suitor Gamache (here called Camacho).
There's a new review on DanceView Times -- just posted, an Extra -- by Eric Taub:
Breathtaking Virtuosity, Unabashedly Itself
It's a rare delight in these days of bland and blurry International-style ballet to see a company which is so unabashedly itself as the National Ballet of Cuba. The Cubans dance with a rare attention to detail and homogeneity, and revel, unapologetically, in their muscularity, even among the women. No reed-thin waifs here! At least, none were in evidence at City Center Thursday night.
The evening began with artistic director Alicia Alonso's staging of bits of the second act of Swan Lake, a last-minute substitution for Les Sylphides, caused by an amazing fit of peevishness by the Fokine estate and American Ballet Theatre (who had purchased a three-year "exclusive" license for the ballet from said estate). After the unfortunate beginning, where the curtain rises (and mercifully falls) on the corps of swan-girls glaring at the audience and all-but-hissing, this is a fairly traditional production, and one which showed off the great strength of the Cuban women. Perhaps the corps of the Kirov, Paris Opera Ballet or even ABT are as strong--perhaps--but where these companies, indeed, most companies, these days work to mask this strength behind a carefully cultivated appearance of lightness and ease, the Cubans, while never graceless, don't take particular pains to hide their strength.
Has anyone gone yet? What did you think?