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Hans

Nureyev's Don Quixote

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It was on PBS a few nights ago in some regions, and I wondered what everyone thought of it. I loved it, although there were a few parts in which the choreography was rather hyperactive, but that's Nureyev for you. One thing that surprised me was the energy throughout the entire production--every last member of the corps de ballet seemed to radiate it throughout the ballet. Highlights for me were Mercedes, Lucette Aldous as Kitri (although her Dream Sequence variation was rather too slow and overcareful), and seeing Nureyev in his prime. The grand pas de deux in the last act was especially thrilling--Nureyev and Aldous delivered much more than the standard technical blaze without making it seem over-the-top--no ear-mutilating extensions, pirouettes/balances that continued long past the music, or jumps that rightfully belong to the circus. The gypsy dances, too, were very good; the dancers actually appeared to have some real character dance training. They were wild, which is what gypsy dancing demands. Surprisingly, the weakest part was the Dream Sequence, in which the dancing was mannered and slow (thought I did love Cupid's costume). Also, there wasn't much differentiation between Dulcinea and the Dryad Queen. If I hadn't already known whose variation was whose, I would have been quite confused. It was nice to see the Dryad's Queen variation danced by the Dryad Queen in Don quixote, instead of being danced by Medora in Le Corsaire! I also enjoyed seeing the original Kitri variation from the grand pas de deux instead of that strange Gorsky thing that usually shows up. However, I rather missed the flower girls during the Grand Pas de Deux; they're nice variations, whether they're original or not.

I should mention that before the credits at the end, I honestly thought I was watching the Paris Opera Ballet, not remembering that they were in a slump at that time and didn't improve until later, when Nureyev was the director. Congratulations to the Australian Ballet on a very impressive performance!

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I've also seen this video on Australian TV several times, also went to see the 1999 production and really enjoyed it. Did you know that the ballet was filmed in an old airplane hanger outside Melbourne and the floor being concrete almost 'killed' their feet. In my 1999 programme their is a bit of the history about the film of Nureyev's production. There was some misgivings about the film being distributed on video because it hadn't sold well up to that time, the film was 'washed out' and had to be restored too. Also the program gives some interviews with the dancers, poor Marilyn Rowe had a new costume that had to be glued to her skin but the glue didn't hold and she ended up dancing topless and nobody told her. :)

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I basically liked the Australian Ballet film of Don Q, but as Hans liked the Gypsies, I found that the most distracting part! The choreography seemed lifted from the corps work in "Paradise Lost" - all those chugs in second position! I haven't seen that anywhere else.

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One question about this production: just before the gypsy dance, Kitri and Basilio perform a pas de deux to music that I am sure is used in the ABT/Royal Ballet Bayadere. If I am correct, in which ballet does this music 'really' belong?

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This music is really from La Bayadere, and Nureyev added it to Don Quixote for a pas de deux for Kitri and Basilio to build up more the dramatic and realistic side of the characters so that they would be more credible, because during act one and three, we only see them dancing happily, and this added pas de deux is to show their despair after having run away.

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