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Don Quixote @ Kennedy Center

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Hans, her Kitri characterization was amazingly good in St. Petersburg, opposite Sarafanov, at the most recent Mariinsky Festival. She is a Latin Spitfire, after all. However, she had some problems relating to Sarafanov, especially after he nearly dropped her in the Tavern Scene. I'm curious how she will fare opposite Jonathan Jordan, who is a very capable soloist, with stronger partnering skills than Sarafanov. We'll see.

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I liked her Kitri a lot. I hope she'll come back to Washington Ballet again! Her energy and attack were amazing. She does need a bigger stage than the Eisenhower, though. She projects so much. Jonathan Jordan seemed a little flat in comparison. I thought they danced well together. She's a little bit too tall for him, so the fish dives looked cramped. But they did all of the one-handed lifts.

I would like to see Maki Onuki's Kitri. She has that bouncy personality and the technique. (Her Cupid was charming.)

The music is pretty bad. You can literally feel every downbeat. I'm sad to hear they're going to taped music for Nutcracker after years of having a live orchestra.

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The review mostly mentions Valdes' balancing, which we already know she's good at...

"I have never seen another dancer who has so perfected the art of standing still. She could balance on the tip of one exquisitely arched foot for such a long time that some in the audience were moved to helpless laughter at the sheer outrageousness of her poise. I joined them; what else could one do? "

Sarah Kaufman


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I am trying to read up on some ballet history. I have read the absurd stories about gentlemen who challenged each other to a duel over their preference for a particular ballerina. I have read the story about eating Taglioni's toe shoes in a sauce. After yeasterday, I am saying - if I was living in the 19th century, could that have been me?

I didn't challenge anyone to a duel or eat anyone's shoes, but I did drive five hours in a noreastern (Yonkers to DC) and then turn around and go back just to see Viengsay Valdes dance. The drive down wasn't too bad. But I had the Rosary out on the drive back (and I'm not joking!!)

Was it worth it? - :thumbsup::clapping::clapping::clapping::clapping: ABSOLUTELY!!!

Can we kidnap this magical creature or get her to defect?

I attended the Saturday night performance. This is the third full-length Don Quixote that I have seen. I saw the Bolshoi when they were in New York in Summer of 2005 and then I saw the ABT production in Spring of 2008. While the Washington Ballet may not have the reputation of the other two companies, I really enjoyed last night's performance. Some parts of the ballet I thought they did better than the other two companies. For example, I thought the comic parts were much funnier in this production than the other two. And the production was filled with beautiful costumes.

I do question the use of the Eisenhower Theatre for a production like this. There was no live orchestra - it was all canned music. A few times it seemed to throw the dancers off, especially when they hit their ending poses. However, the one good thing about the Eisenhower was that everything was very up close and personal - even sitting way up in balcony.

Well, the whole reason I came was to see Valdes and I was enchanted. First of all, she is the first Hispanic Kitri I have seen (previously I saw Zakharova with the Bolshoi and Ananiashvili with the ABT). She was full of energy, very funny, and had such a stage presence. She drew me in with her smile and with her incredible dancing. Then, she was so heartstoppingly gorgeous in the Act II dream ballet as Dulcinea (Like Don Quixote, I fell in love with her!) Then, the Act III Pas de deux was very exciting. She seemed to have a style of dancing all of her own.

I felt that Jonathan Jordan got stronger as the night went on. He looked a little shaky in the beginning, but it seemed that Valdes was helping his confidence. He really lit up in the Act III pas de deux. He even executed one of those "karate kick wheelbarrow jumps".

Other standouts were Brooklyn Mack as Espada, Sona Kharatian as Mercedes, Jared Nelson as the Gypsy King, Rui Huang as the Queen of the Dryads and Maki Onuki as Amour.

I hope somehow that I will see Valdes dance again! This almost makes up for me missing Osipova with ABT last year.

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re: Miss Vi.

Can we kidnap this magical creature or get her to defect?

This is interesting. A while ago, I would have seconded the above question without hesitation. As per now, I'm not sure. For once, it seems that Miss Vi is taking full-(and wise)-advantage of the outcomes from the very few openings for cultural exchanges that have been happening in between Cuba and US, hence getting the possibility to be known and recognized in America without having to be exiled, which then leads me to my second point: If happened-(her leaving of Alonso's company)-I don't really see how could she fit into any of the top American troupes, given the difficulty to deal with her current "diva" status-(something not very encouraged over here, as I perceive)- and the fact that her biggest strength is the XIX Century repertoire, which doesn't seem to be the bulk of the best companies around anymore. Honestly, I would hate to see her die like a fish out of the water, a la Rolando Sarabia. So let's let her stay over there while hoping that she-(and many other Cuban dancers and artists)-can soon benefit from a wider and wiser political understanding.

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Washington Ballet

Kennedy Center, Wash. DC

October 17, 2009 - 8 p.m.

Saturday's performance was a winner. I totally agree with all of Ceeszi's observations. Perhaps due to the Washington Ballet being a 'smaller' arena than the Mariinsky, Viengsay Valdes was even better here than she was in St. Petersburg last March, as this was a performance with greater coloring -- better balance of spitfire technique (multi-fouettes and impossible balances in Acts 1 and 3) and elegant classicsm (an Act 2 Dream Variation to-die-for!). Valdes was extraordinary in every respect -- even better than Natalia Osipova's two memorable Kitris with the Bolshoi, a couple of years ago here in DC, which were slanted towards technique-over-artistry.

Jonathan Jordan danced Basilio with panache in his solos and steady partnering of his superstar ballerina throughout. A big improvement over Sarafanov at the Mariinsky. He and Valdes definitely had the charisma between themselves. A palpable friendship, easily playing-off against each other. [it helps that Valdes had several weeks to work with Jordan, versus one or two days with Sarafanov.]

Maki Onuki was exquisite as Amour in the Dream Scene. I believe that it was Jade Payette -- not the announced Rui Huang -- as the fine Dryad Queen. Brooklyn Mack sizzled as Espada but nearly stealing the show were the other corps gents...my faves being South Africa's star-in-the-making, Andile Ndlovu, and the tall and powerful Hungarian stylist, Tamas Krizsa. Luis R. Torres was a believable Don Q.

This new staging by Anna-Marie Holmes is quite faithful to the Russian 'original' that we best know from the Kirov-Mariinsky of Leningrad/St. Pete, where Holmes lived and worked for several years. It even includes all of the 'child' segments that were omitted during the Kirov-Mariinsky's recent visit to DC, e.g., the Gypsy Camp 'toy theater' sequence and the use of children in the Act 2 Dream Scene (perhaps a few too many children for the small number of adult corps!). Especially interesting were a couple of sequences that I've never seen, so I imagine that these are Holmes' creations: (1) an authentic 'flamenco' segment for the male corps de ballet at the start of the Tavern Scene, to the accompaniment of a stick beating out the rhythm on the floor and/or clapping of the corps; and (2) a slow-motion comic duel between Don Q and the rich suitor Gamache, to the music of the Mariinsky's Act 4's Fandango, as an entr'act between the two scenes in the final act.

The canned music didn't bother me at all. Sure, a live orchestra would be better but the tape was OK. The sound system must have been fixed since the night that was reviewed in the Wash Post.

Best of All: My fellow audience members, making me think that I was in Havana, with highly spirited 'bravos' and footstomping, especially after Valdes' segments. I sat near the front of Orchestra section but my ears deafened at the volley of 'bravo!' coming in waves, from behind and around me! Instant standing ovation at the end. The ballerina's face registered big happiness. She must have felt right at home. It was a memorable night of True Cuban Spirit!!! :off topic:

Natalia Nabatova

Washington, DC

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