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ABT's Don Q in Costa Mesa, Calif.

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Don Quixote, Fri. July 25, 2003; starring Xiomara Reyes and Angel Corella. A wonderful ballet evening. This is the first starring role in which I’ve seen Xiomara Reyes and she didn’t disappoint. She easily fits the look and choreography of perky Kitri. Her dancing in Act I was especially good; she seems to thrive on the fast tempo and steps. Wonderful pirouettes and even better balances. She’s lovely in the more adagio parts of the ballet but I preferred her dancing allegro, if that’s how you state it. I found the final pas de deux, though very good, just the teeniest bit off from the standard set in the rest of the ballet; however all the solos were excellent. Then there’s cutie-pie Angel Corella. Sensational, as always, smiling non-stop (it must be wonderful to dance with someone who gazes back at you with that smile and seems to be having such a darn good time). His dancing is so solid and secure; you know he’s going to land those jumps, and complete a gazillion pirouettes without a hitch, all the while carefully partnering his ballerina. That one-handed lift in Act I went on forever! He’s no longer the young Spanish Leprechaun; he’s now an adult Spanish Leprechaun and all the more handsome. The two of them together had the audience on their feet at the end of the performance. The rest of the cast followed the pattern set by the stars and it was a night of great ballet. I’ve always liked the role of Amour; it has wonderful choreography and Renata Pavam was terrific.

The 1st and 3rd acts are very busy with bits of business going on at every corner of the stage. It’s distracting, and it’s a shame to miss it while you’re watching the dancers. For example, Gamache (Guillaume Graffin) hams it up while choking on a hot pepper; why they add this I don’t know but it’s there to be seen.

The sets by Santa Loquasto are beautiful.


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Giannina, it's lovely to hear such positive words about ABT! I'm especially happy to learn that Renata Pavam has been given something special to do. She was here with us for a short time when she was about 15 I think, during a vacation in her country, and she showed amazing potential at that time. A beautiful and very delightful young dancer!

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Ohmygosh! In my opinion tonight (Sat., July 26) was one of those ballet nights. AN EVENT!! ABT’s Don Quixote; who would have thunk it?! As wonderful as last night’s performance was, this one was better.

The cast. How can I say it all? I am not a Irina Dvorovenko fan but tonight she was darn near perfect. My only quibble would be her 180 degree extensions; other than that she was sublime. This was a not a pixie young Kitri; this was a woman. Dvorovenko acted and danced like a woman. She was in control; she was lavish; she did not rush. She capped off her perfect evening with her final gesture at the end of the Act III pas de deux: as she and Basilio/Belotserkovsky finished their dance they paused for a second before dropping to their knees. Dvorovenko was in a passé pose (wording) and hit a balance that just wouldn’t stop. She held it; Belosterkovsky waited to move until she moved, the orchestra stopped, the audience held its breath, and with a flourish she dropped to her knee. Lordy! Maxim Belotserkovsky danced beautifully, but of the cast he was probably the weak link. The fact that he followed Corella’s performance last night didn’t help for those of us who saw both performances. Where Belotserkovsky would do 6 pirouettes Corella did 11. Corella was all smiles with a few perplexed side glances; Belotserkovsky was perplexed practically all the time, and showed strain as he partnered Dvorovenko. But as I said, he danced beautifully and was a joy to watch.

Those in the smaller roles were equally noteworthy. I cannot say enough about Michele Wiles as Queen of the Dryads. Lush dancing. I wish I could name steps, but she does a series of, I think, develope to the side followed by a single pirouette in attitude. She stopped that pirouette facing dead center….not sliding by, not a couple of degrees off; dead center. Her entire solo was a lesson in grace and solid technique. As Amour last night Renata Pavam was petit and airy; tonight Maria Riccetto was more grounded but every bit as accomplished; a wonderful performance. Unfortunately neither of them appeared at the closing bows. Carlos Molina as Espada is the only dancer I’ve seen who can dance the opening steps of his Act II solo without looking like a doofus; he made the most of that and everything else he danced. Carmen Corella is one of the best Mercedes I’ve seen; her smile is every bit as dazzling as her brother’s. Guillaume Graffin, again in the role of Gamache, is the best comic actor in the company; you haven’t lived til you’ve seen him as one of the stepsisters in Cinderella. The stage is very busy during his appearance in Don Q. and he is almost lost in all the activity.

It’s an honor to have been at Orange County Performing Arts Center tonight. Even my husband raved about the ballet, and he doesn’t rave very easily. Wish all of you could have been there.


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I was fortunate to be able to see two ABT performances this week - Wednesday and Saturday evening.

I posted about Wednesday evening The Dream et al on "Recent Performances."

As far as Saturday, I agree with other comments made. It was a great night for ballet. Irina gave such a confident performance. Don Q is a really fun ballet with so many characters and lots of dancing. Very entertaining.

We attended the preview talk prior to the program where it was mentioned that there were three different casts for each act of the Saturday matinee performance. That's what I call getting your money's worth - unless of course, you wanted to see the same couple dance the whole performance. I would have loved to have seen Jose Manuel Carreno dance Basilio - even if it was only the first act . . .

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I wish I could name steps, but she does a series of, I think, develope  to the side followed by a single pirouette in attitude.

I learned the name of that step as French fouettes, but many of our fellow the BA-niks call them Italian fouettes.

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It was great having ABT in OC last week. I caught 3 performances - Wednesday eve, Saturday eve and Sunday matinee. All performances were enjoyable for me on various levels.

Wednesday's program was the rep. This was my first viewing of Ashton's "The Dream" and I was glad to have seen it. Herman Cornejo stole the show in my mind. He was amazing as Puck.

Ethan and Alexandra were a lovely pair, but I cannot say that I loved the choreography that they were given. Ethan did a remarkable job with what I felt was very difficult material. At times I thought he might be focusing too much on his technque rather than his character as it was being taped by PBS. I enjoyed the role of Bottom very much. And the couples turned in wonderful performances as well. The sets and costumes added tremendous mood and style to this production.

Don Q pas was danced by Paloma and Gennadi. It looked good but was not a stellar performance. To me - they looked thrown together and uninvolved. I have seen this danced so many times, maybe I have become jaded.

It is difficult for me to comment on the George Harrison work. Other than the pas de duex with Stella Arbrerra and Isaac Stappas, I thought this work lacked deepth of conviction and purpose.

The performances were great, but the work was not worthy of the artistic level of this company. Glad I got to view all of these works since ABT rarely brings a varied program like this one to OCPAC.

Don Q has been reviewed here by many others. My treat was seeing the new Veronica Part dance Queen of the Dryads. I also admired the acting performances of Gillian and Marcello. Their humor was right on and each had a definition of personality that was enjoyable to watch. Irena and Max's interpretation was different. I missed much of the act I pantomime with them.

Irena did pull out the stops in the Act III pas. wow. Her performance was impressive on a technical level. And their overhead lifts were breathtaking. But I preferred the coupling of Ms Murphey and Mr. Gomes for their quality of performance throughout the entire evening. That's just me.

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Yes, Carbo....a bunch of those. Great stuff. Thanks.

I've been suffering guilt pangs lest I suggested that Belosterkovsky was a lesser dancer because he didn't do as many pirouettes as Corella. Not so; it's a matter of style. With Corella, who does multiple pirouettes better than just about anyone, it's a matter of "Here I am with my eleven perfect pirouettes, whizzing around in several positions and I just might corkscrew myself into the stage floor" whereas with Belosterkovsky it's "This is how you do 6 perfect pirouettes: graceful preparation, perfect balance, astounding turn-out, slow so you can see every one or them distinctly, ta-TA!!


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I wish I could name steps, but she does a series of, I think, develope to the side followed by a single pirouette in attitude.

This move can also be seen in Gamzatti's variation in the pas de deux of "La Bayadere." its proper name is grand fouetté relevé en tournant en dedans. Here is the description of the move from the "Ballet CD-ROM":

This fouetté is done en dedans with a preparatory step to fourth position and a grand fondu or a grand battement to à la seconde. The working leg then brushes through first position demi-plié as the body turns inward until the dancer faces the back diagonal. The working leg continues forward into a strong grand battement devant.

After passing through a clean écarté position, the final pose is usually a third arabesque or an attitude croisée derrière. The arms coordinate and assist the changes of the positions of the legs and torso. In order to achieve the right movement quality for this fouetté the dancer must think of the total movement. It happens quickly and should look smooth and sustained as the dancer goes through all the the various positions to reach the final pose.

The torso must be held together for the turn so that the shoulders and upper body turn quickly and exactly into the final pose. This step is commonly seen performed by virtuosi dancers in a series of four or more en dedans fouettés on the same supporting leg. If done in a series, a sustained finish in the attitude or arabesque pose on relevé is crucial before continuing on to the next plié and relevé à la seconde. The challenge of this step is to keep the correct coordination and the height of the working leg, and to balance the body in a stable pose at the end of each fouetté. An accomplished dancer gives this step a feeling of ease and control.

And I agree with Gia that Michelle Wiles did them beautifully, with a clean stop at each attitude before launching into the next grand battement.


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It's a matter of personal taste, balletstar811. I do not care for the hyperextension; I prefer an extension to the side of 90 to about 105 degrees. Extensions of more than that are comparatively new (I've been watching ballet for 60 years) and to me are an over-statement. I realize that many ballet fans prefer them, and that they have been a part of their ballet experience for practically all their lives. I respect their opinion; that's what makes life interesting and ballet rapturous.


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Ohmygosh!  In my opinion tonight (Sat., July 26) was one of those ballet nights.  AN EVENT!!  ABT’s Don Quixote; who would have thunk it?!  As wonderful as last night’s performance was, this one was better.

The cast.  How can I say it all?  I am not a Irina Dvorovenko fan but tonight she was darn near perfect. 

Hi Giannina,

I saw Dvorovenko/Belosterkovsky in DQ durring ABT's summer season in New York. I read your post about their Costa Mesa performance and wanted to second your opinion. I 'd seen very little of Dvorovenko until this season, and her Kitri really blew me away.

I saw three casts in DQ - Herrera/Carreno, Murphy/Stiefel and Dvorovenko/Belosterkovsky. All were wonderful, and each brought something special to their role but IMO Dvorovenko's performance was just amazing. Her technique and characterization both sparkled but to me the most remarkable thing was the conviction, charisma and energy that she brought to the role. Earlier in the season I thought that the audience at the Met seemed pretty reserved and quiet. Not by the end of this evening. It was amazing to watch the way Dvorovenko burst onto that stage in the first act and just took control of the performance, really owned the role and set the tone. As the evening progressed it was almost as if she was able to lift the energy level first of the rest of the cast and then of the audience through the sheer force of her personality. An amazing performance. I also loved Belosterkovsky. He's such a smooth and elegant dancer but it seemed almost like he was overwhelmed by Dvorovenko - confronted by an uncontrollable force of nature - and I felt that his perfomance may have been overshadowed in comparison to hers...


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