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The Royal Ballet has posted more detailed casting for its October 16 screening of Don Quixote. Subject to change, of course.

Kitri - Marianela Nuñez

Basilio - Carlos Acosta

Don Quixote - Christopher Saunders

Sancho Panza - Philip Mosley

Espada - Ryoichi Hirano

Mercedes - Laura Morera

Gamache - Bennet Gartside

Lorenzo - Gary Avis


The linked page also includes a search box to find nearby screenings.

Some relevant presenter links.

U.S. http://www.fathomevents.com/#!don-quixote

Canada http://www.cineplex.com/Events/DanceSeries/Home.aspx

France http://www.cotediffusion.fr/thematique/ballet

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How did we like it...?

I found the production to be very enjoyable, but my assessment also included some minuses. Here I go.


Marianela and Carlos. Gorgeous dancing and even stronger acting. Marianela's Spanish heritage is so palpable. Radiance at its best all along the entire ballet. Her rapport with Acosta was amazing. Here and there she gave so many little things-(a quick tilt of the head, the HONEST smile, her mischievous look at times..). Her technique is strong as ever, and always in control. Her diagonal of sautés on pointe during the dream scene and her fouettes in the PDD....WOW! She never looked strained, and her variation in the PDD was just delicious. She REALLY look as she was enjoying herself big time. Carlos' jumps an turns might not be what they were 15 years ago, but hey...he's been performing this role for 20 years now, and he still gave one of the best Basilios I've seen in many years. He even adorned his variations with little tricks here and there, and they were wonderful to watch. More important...he's a CREDIBLE guy performing a macho role. I've seen so many Basilios in the mannered side lacking so much the macho element so required for this role that it was very refreshing to see this. Kuddos for this two amazing dancers.

The sets and costumes. Very beautiful too. I really liked the moving props for the town. I was not too crazy about the tutus for the Queen of Dryads, Dulcinea/Kitri and Amour though-(too much meringue-like), and particularly the choice of dressing Amour in a tutu rather than the little tunic that makes this character sort of different from everybody else. For some not too familiar with the story both the Queen and Amour could had looked confusing.

The scene of the acoustic guitars within the gypsy camp was risky, but I think it worked.


Ryoichi Hirano's Espada. Too affected...not enough convincing-(no complaints on technical matters).

The contemporary choreo for the gypsy. No need to mix things. I don't want to see women being handled on the air as is in a Tharp's work. Let's try to keep the traditional language here.

The screaming. Ballet should keep being preserved as a mute dancing art form. Mime has been nurtured and passed along for this purpose. All those voices and even words-("Viva Espada!")- annoyed me.

Acosta staged the PDD pretty much after the Cuban version. The couple of fish dives during the adagio, Basilio giving his back to the audience while supporting Quiteria in attitude at the end of the entrance and beginning of the Adagio in the PDD, the little shoulder movement for the ballerina after the supported arabesque penchee instead of the traditional mirrored renversees for both dancers among other details.

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Cristian, I agree with what you say about the dream sequence. I think someone who doesn't know DQ would wonder, "Who are they?" They were all pretty much dressed alike. When Amour showed up I only recognized her due to the little childlike bourees. I also hated the handing Kitri off in the air. There were some other lifts that were strange too. But some of the revised choreography was interesting and fun to compare and contrast. My take is that he was trying to be modern but also traditional at the same time. I tend to think this deflates a production. I think you have to choose one direction or another. Make things very new or stick with tradition, but that is just me. The yelling out and noise on stage also did not work for me. I think ballet is already like an imaginary world. Trying to inject realism into it makes it all seem awkward to me.

I thought Carlos Acosta was the main reason to see this. He has flair and even moves his upper body better than most of the others.

I think watching too many Mariinsky DQs have ruined me when watching the corps de ballet in other companies. Everyone seemed stiff and jerky to me from the waist up in the corps. But this is a matter of different company styles and my own personal taste. Others probably hate what I love (the flowing arms), and that is okay. We can't all like the same thing.

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When watching Acosta's new choreography of the gypsy camp scene I thought of a lite version of Mats Ek's Carmen. In any case, it seems we're agreed that it doesn't work.

If you dislike John Lanchberry's treatment of the score, you probably won't like what Martin Yates has done to it either. I think the re-orchestration makes a mess of everything, with melodies now obscured under layers of "orchestral color," and trumpets popping out at all sorts of inopportune places. Amour's variation gets the worst of it. But despite the overhaul, the interpolated bits from La Bayadère sound as out of place as ever.

While I agree with Cristian on most points, I disagree about the sets. I thought the street scene was particularly problematic. The backdrop consists of a series of undersized building facades, which presumably were intended to give an illusion of great depth, and for all I know the effect may work in the theater. But in a two-dimensional video image I thought it flopped. It gave the impression of a set from a student production, as though the ballet were being performed in a theater that wasn't equipped with proper flies for proper backdrops.

I agree that the costumes in the dream sequence are pretty awful. The tutu of the Queen of the Dryads seems to have been inspired by the hat Princess Anne wore to her brother Charles' first wedding; every other dancer got stuck with the same basic idea in different colors. And it is a real shame that Amour has been deprived of her accoutrements. Without them it's not entirely clear what she's doing in the scene.

But there was a lot to admire from some of the dancers, especially Marianela Nuñez, who probably possesses the most universal technique in ballet; there are no weak areas. And I was very pleasantly surprised by Carlos Acosta. The last time I saw him he didn't perform as strongly. All 40-years-olds should dance this well. I thought that Beatriz Stix-Brunell as one of Kitri's girlfriends had a lot of style, and I liked Bennet Gartside's Gamache. But I was also underwhelmed by Ryoichi Hirano's Espada, especially since his posse of toreros included dancers like Valeri Hristov, Johannes Stepanek, Eric Underwood and Dawid Trzensimiech.

I didn't care for the reworked prologue and thought the casting of the always striking Christina Arestis as Dulcinea was a mistake; she managed to make the rather tall Christopher Saunders appear not tall by comparison. The ballet did seems to take a long time to get going, and the onstage whooping and hollering sounded forced. Right now I'm inclined to give the production three stars out of five, but I think many of the shortcomings can be fixed. Start with the music!

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Thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I was in a monster stadium theatre in Palm Beach gardens which was hosting a 4 person audience. When are the companies producing these wonderful events going to figure out how to publicize them? Without ballet alert and twitter feeds I'd never know about them.

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I've never understood why there isn't a giant flyer posted in local dance studios; the one I take classes at (catering to adults who have the expendable income to go to these events) never has any publicity up for ANY dance events, let alone these movie screenings. I don't get it either. There is a woman at the ones I go to that passes out flyers with future dates which is nice for those who may have only happened into the broadcast by chance.

I liked the production overall, but the first act was overlong. I liked Nunez and Acosta and many of the RB's soloists continue to distinguish themselves throughout these broadcasts: Gartside (Gamache) and Whitehead (Lead Gypsy) particularly, as well as Yuhui Choe. I thought Melissa Hamilton and Mendizibar were both brittle, this made clear against the pliancy of the rest of soloists/principals. However it feels like the company is holding back; I respect the restraint that comes naturally to the RB (and quite like it actually), but I noted particularly in the back bends that frequent the choreography a stiffness that was not welcome. And having seen many of these dancers in Macgregor works, they can bend quite well. So while some of it is good (like the fact that Hamilton resisted whacking her ear during each developee in the Dryad variation), a little bit more in the character dancing might go a long way.

I missed the crazed gypsy woman solo from Bolshoi, but enjoyed the addition of the guitars (seems a waste to have them onstage for only a few minutes though)

edit: why is Laura Morera not dancing Kitri? It seems like an obvious choice and her talents are clearly wasted on Mercedes (hated, hated the revisions to that variation. Probably the most visceral dislike I felt throughout the production)

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The very first time I saw a ballet broadcast into a movie theater I found out about it purely by accident: I saw a poster in a multiplex lobby, and that was extremely fortunate, because I hardly ever go to the movies. Maybe once or twice a year. The screenings are not advertised in playbills at local ballet performances, and apparently they're not advertised to ballet schools either. That's a real shame, because in comparison to the opera or theater series, the dance series here is the only one that offers a substantially lower ticket price for children. (There weren't any children at yesterday's screening, but then it was a weeknight, and the performance ran long into the evening.) It shouldn't be up to us rank-and-file ballet watchers to try and spread the word. My reach certainly isn't sufficient to have much impact.

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Oh, and a little quick note..how about the music of Nikiya/Solor Act I PDD added here for Basilio/Quiteria in the beginning of the gypsy scene...? That needs to go too...

Edited to add: volcanohunter...I just read that you noticed that too. I jumped in my seat when I heard that and said out loud-(maybe TOO loud)-.."But that's from Bayadere!!"

Yes...the orchestration was sort of silly at times...there were even some subtle changes of minor to major keys at times in little passages...

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I saw this in a Seattle multi-plex. They've run a few Fathom programs in the past, and they run the Met Opera films, but they don't seem to know how to promote this work. The Met does a good job on its own, but the Fathom organization seems to depend on the local presenter to do marketing outside the theater -- they run very elaborate "upcoming" trailers, promoting a lot of events that we don't ever seem to hear about in the local press. Speaking as a critic, I don't really care who does the marketing as long as I get the information I need in time to pitch something to my editors, but in this case it seems like each entity assumes the other one is making that effort.

We saw the Ratmansky version of the ballet here a couple years ago, set on Pacific Northwest Ballet, and several years before that they presented the McKenzie version from ABT. Beyond that I've seen the usual videos, but it's always seemed to me that Don Q has less 'heritage' material in it than other ballets of the same vintage. We accept changes in the work much more willingly than we do with Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty. But having said that, there are elements that need to be included for it to feel like a "real" Don Q -- for the most part, for me, this version managed to hit all the right buttons -- I could see some of the changes that Acosta has made, and was curious about why he made some of those decisions, but I didn't feel it was a seriously alternative version.

The character of the Don is a challenge in almost every production -- he's a catalyst for many events in the story, but he doesn't have a complex kinetic identity. It would be interesting to look at him in comparison to Von Rothbart and Carabosse in various productions, and see how different choreographers or stagers have dealt with these characters. Perhaps Saunders was at a disadvantage since he was the ballet master as well as a performer here, but I didn't really get much differentiation in his performance -- he wandered with his head in his hand one too many times for me.

I can understand why the concept of mobile set pieces would be exciting for Acosta, and a couple of times they did seem to enhance the action on the stage (especially at the end of the first act when Kitri and Basilio were escaping and the back of the stage opened up at the right moment). But overall, it seemed a bit gimmicky to me, and distracted from the actual dancing.

I seem to be in the minority here, but I liked Hirano's performance as Espada -- he gave a darker and more aggressive take on the movement profile, which makes a nice contrast to Basilio's sunnier nature. I particularly appreciated this in the tavern scene, which really does feature him. There was an echo of that light and dark contrast between Kitri and Mercedes, but it's not as clearly articulated.

I'm also on the opposite side about the gypsy choreography in act 2 -- I liked it very much, and didn't think that the more contemporary aspects of it were a deficit. And going for the trifecta, I liked the inclusion of the guitarists. To be fair, I'm not sure how it reads in the theater -- we got a lot of close-in camera work in that section which gave us a very intimate view, but someone sitting in the house likely doesn't have the same experience. My big concern with this act is the stage balance between the gypsies and Don Q as he tries to battle the windmill. I still don't have a good sense of what that stage picture looks like from the house.

Acosta has made a very powerful showcase for his own skills here, and I'm happy to see him in it. It's a trick to combine the Spanish elements with classical technique. The two dance practices are so close stylistically, and yet there are distinctions -- finding a way to navigate between them is a challenge. Both he and Nunez gave very balanced performances. I've only seen her in a few things, but I don't remember her as being this natural on stage. She laced her interpretation with several almost pedestrian moments -- winking, shrugging, sighs and giggles and smirking. I thought, for the most part, it worked well, but there were times when I felt she could dial it back and it would be more affective.

We're scheduled to see Wheeldon's new Alice in November, and Nutcracker in December, but the local presenter hasn't made any other commitments yet -- I'm keeping fingers crossed for the rest of the season.

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The character of the Don is a challenge in almost every production -- he's a catalyst for many events in the story, but he doesn't have a complex kinetic identity. It would be interesting to look at him in comparison to Von Rothbart and Carabosse in various productions, and see how different choreographers or stagers have dealt with these characters.

Well...both characters have evolved at times to the point of being given classical dancing, as with the Carabosse on pointe of the Soviet Kirov version with Dudinskaya and the Bolshoi and ABT Rothbarts using music omitted by Petipa in the '95 staging.

I dont think there has ever been a dancing Don, or at least dancing a variation by himself, although Alonso's version has him partnering Kitri/dulcinea in the dream sequence to an adagio...

@ 0401.

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PNB followed Ratmansky's casting choices for DNB by casting actors as Don Q and Sancho Panza for almost all performances. The strength of actor Tom Skerritt's portrayal of Don Q was in his facial expressions, to be expected from a film-focused actor. In two performances, Otto Neubert performed Don Q, and for me, while his kinetic identity might not have been complex, it was strong and unpredictable: he was like a lion who could pounce at any moment, and the element of social danger that one person in the room wasn't in on the jokes -- he took everything seriously and literally -- wasn't playing along with the cliques, and wasn't interested in the social gloss that smooths things over -- he took everything seriously and literally -- was palpable, because his elephant in the room couldn't be easily dismissed, like Gamache's vanity.

Daniel Baudendistel in Ballet Arizona's production had a similar force when I saw it at the premiere weekend, if from a different approach: he was the powerful presence of a different era and ethos, a bit like Hamlet's father's ghost, and completely out of place in the ballet's world. It wasn't a movement-based kinetic presence, but in in his most powerful moments the ability to generate power in stillness, and he, and his admonition by example, couldn't be ignored.

I think it takes a very strong presence and concept to pull off Don Q, since he comes in and wants to interfere with our pretty little ballet.

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I think there's a very good chance they will. The US release usually follows about two months after the UK release.

There is the odd exception. Wheeldon's Cinderella was never released on the North American market for whatever reason. But the imported disc plays just fine for me.

(I have also found that when ordering a minimum of five items from one of Amazon's European outlets, the deducted VAT usually covers the cost of shipping.)

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