Posted 05 April 2011 - 12:26 PM
Helene, you crack me up! "I wouldn't miss [Paula Hartley] if her partner were a professional wrestler." Well, her performances did live up to your expectations. Don Q is a great vehicle for her sparkle and wit, not to mention her physicality, daring, and endurance. She and Astrit Zejnati continue to be an eminantly watchable pair. His sense of fun, flirtatiousness, and competitiveness come to the fore in this piece, as well. They have wonderful chemistry and timing, both comedic and physical.
This role does sometimes demonstrably tax Mr. Zejnati, however, whose endurance over a run or through a long ballet has never been his strong suit. He handled it better than usual,this time. His turns were crisp and controlled, his jumps strong and energetic. He modified the iconic series of overhead, one-handed lifts (which the partner enters with a kind of cartwheel; a heroic feat of timing and gymnastic athleticism) cleverly -- each time doing just two, rather than the customary three, with the second extended through the time of the usual third. The audience loved it!
This year the portions that are danced by a male ensemble hit me with new impact. There's something about all those men, in unison, in long lines, that is exciting. Even in a crowd of talent, Russell Clarke stands out, he's just so handsome and has great stage presence.
The charecter parts were very funny and a big favorite with the crowd, as with the previous performances. Comedy is such a strenghth for this company; it would be wonderful to see them perform in sophisticated contemporary works calling on their skills in this area. Roman Zavarov showed a flair for comedy that was somewhat surprising, joining others we are more accustomed to seeing in these roles. Donald Dadey, now director of the Scottsdale School of Ballet and a retired Ballet Arizona and Zurich Ballet dancer, was hilarious as Lorenzo, with stage presence and personality to burn. Daniel Baudendistal, former Joffrey dancer, reprising his role as the Don, brought just the right amount of pathos. Not quite of this world, he helps round out the ballet by providing a counterpoint to the more earthy charecters.
Unfortunately, I was not able to see the alternative cast, featuring Ginger Smith and Shea Johnson.