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Orlando Ballet's Don Quixote

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I just got home after a weekend in Orlando, where I saw two DQs by Orlando Ballet. I saw the Saturday night and Sunday matinee shows.

Orlando Ballet borrowed ABT's sets and costumes, and Susan Jones (ABT ballet mistress) staged the ballet. Finally they partnered with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra so after two experiences I had with no orchestra I was happy about this.

If anyone has read my previous reviews of their recent seasons I felt a Swan Lake last season to be an artistic disaster, but this season I enjoyed a mixed bill of To Familiar Spaces in Dream and Firebird even though it was to a recording. So since my Spring Break landed during Orlando Ballet's DQs, I decided I would go down and see these performances. And I think overall it was a triumph for Orlando Ballet.

I only saw 2 out of their 3 shows, but Adiarys Almeida and Arcadian Broad danced both Friday and Sunday (I saw them Sunday). Chiaki Yasukawa and Andras Ronai danced on Saturday.

On Saturday the best dancing came from the Gypsy man played by Ivan Duarte. He had excellent turns and when he did turns in second he added hops up into the air which was exciting. The Kitri (Yasukawa) and Basilio (Ronai) did a good job acting and dancing, but I felt there was something missing, but I didn't really know what. Nothing they did was wrong and their acting was rather good, but there was somehow a rehearsal type quality to the performance. I left the theater thinking, "That was a very decent DQ for a regional company that has been having some troubles." It wasn't until today's matinee that I found out what had been missing.

Today on Sunday during the matinee Adiarys Almeida and Arcadian Broad delivered amazing fireworks. Both seemed to feed off the other and I can't say it became competitive, but there was more electricity and a feeling of confidence. Almeida is a very musical dancer originally from Cuba, and her Cuban style schooling showed. She had a more legato quality than Yasukawa. Everything was delivered in a smooth yet very exciting manner. Her acting was totally natural as well. She showed off some great balances although she wobbled a bit during the ones that are similar to the Sleeping Beauty ones, but other times her balances were amazing. This was a Kitri who was ALIVE and loving life. During the final pas de deux when Basilio put her into position to hold a balance just when you thought she was going to put her foot down, she moved it forward before placing it down. She threw in many triples during her fouettes near the end. And during other isolated turns she would do triples.

Arcadian Broad was another great turner. He would end all of his various turns in cou-de-pied holding onto the balance for a few seconds, or he would end them in something I have seen before in Russian dancers but I don't know what it is called.....when he would finish his turns the working leg comes slowly down and it looks so elegant sort of flowing....a corkscrew effect that is very beautiful. Maybe someone reading this knows what I mean and can give a name to the step, although I have asked some knowledgeable ballet lovers (who used to dance) and they did not know what it is called. He also did entrechats once while doing a tour en l'air.....it makes the legs look like controlled chaos when this is done. I have rarely seen male dancers do this except Ivan Vasiliev. I'm sure others can do it, but I haven't seen many do it.

Basically, both Almeida and Broad were technically brilliant and could be compared with the best dancers in America and maybe elsewhere. Plus, they were both committed actors. The only quibble is that Broad still looks so young and doesn't quite look like the type to be a ladies' man (Basilio flirts with other women). Ronai on Saturday night was an ultra handsome and hunky Basilio and was totally believable as a ladies' man.

Judging from the male corps (who were the toreadors) and the Saturday night Espada there is no starving going on in the company! LOL They danced well but I just wasn't used to this. On the street I am sure they look thinner than the average male, but on stage they were not skinny. It was refreshing to see different body types dancing (and dancing well).

Like I said, this was a triumph for Orlando Ballet, and I am so glad to see that they can deliver the goods and will hopefully keep going from strength to strength. My opinion of Robert Hill (artistic director) and Orlando Ballet has done a 180 degree turnaround. Today's performance reminded me WHY people go to ballet.

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