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Royal Danish Ballet - Don Quixote - Copenhagen - 25/04/2008

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The Royal Danish Ballet has recently taken Alicia Alonso's NBC production of Don Quixote. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the performance on 25h April.

When we got to the theatre I must admit to being a bit miffed that we would be seeing guest artists in the roles of Kitri and Basil. That changed when I picked up a cast sheet and realised that we would be seeing Anette Delgado and Joel Carreno from NBC.

The RDB has maintained the set and costumes from its previous production and they are very handsome. I did notice that they use "cooler" colours than the more vivid ones I have seen in past productions but. for me, they still evoked the Spain of my imagination.

I adore the "Bournonville style" and thought that its virtuosity would well suit this production. In that assumption I had overlooked the differences in the styles and while the Danish dancers obviously enjoyed dancing in this ballet it did not always seem to sit comfortably with them.

Sebastian Klobborg was an elegant Espada who tried to give a flavour of toreador arrogance and had some lovely flourishes. He looked as though he was having a whale of a time with the role. His Mercedes was Amy Watson, who was deliciously flirtatious. Yao Wei was brilliant as the Queen of the Driads in Act 2. One of the highlights was the entrance of the toreadors in Act 1 with all the young Danish dancers making the most of their opportunity.

Erling Eliasson was a gentle and dignified Don Quixote, giving a beautifully subtle characterisation.

Anette Delgado and Joel Carreno were magnificent from their first entrances right through to the standing ovation at the end. I had seen and adored them in Giselle in Paris last year and their performances in this ballet were a delicious contrast.

Anette Delgado has got such a formidable technique and in her characterisation of Kitri she was all flashing eyes and flirtatiousness. Joel Carreno was a gently flirtatious Basil, deeply in love with Kitri and with a smile that lit up the whole auditorium.

One of the things I really love about these dancers is the fact that they have the technique to roll out the party pieces with apparent ease but without over-egging the pudding and without over-shadowing the rest of the dancers. It means that we see and enjoy the complete performance and not just a series of tricks.

I'd seen NBC perform this production in London a couple of years ago so was ready for the show-stopping one-handed lifts in Act 1. It was great hearing everyone in the audience gasp in amazement, especially after the second one when Joel Carreno virtually ran across the stage with Anette Delgado still held way above his head. The grand pas in Act 3 was similarly spectacular. I would love to know how they achieve the gravity-defying leap into the fish dive! At the end of the grand pas, some of the audience gave a standing ovation, which I have never seen before during a performance. Needless to say that at the end of the performance the entire audience was on its feet cheering and all the Danish artists were applauding these two wonderful dancers. It had turned out to be a fabulous evening.

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