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Don Quixote - summer season


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This afternoon's matinee was so much FUN! And not a principal in sight - but then who need them when you have soloists this good?

The cast sheet was amusing - 6 cast changes listed. I presume the 4 changes on the slip have something to do with changes in the evening performance. But they did themselves proud - prize for the most costume changes has to go to Bennet Gartside who appeared as a peasant, a matador, a gypsy and a fandango dancer! Phew! Martin Harvey coming a close second with lead fandango, lead gypsy, and a peasant! Versatile!

Basilio and Kitri were Ivan Putrov and Laura Morera. They were both superb. They looked good together too - no partnering worries here. The famous pdd was really good - Ivan did a jump which was just amazing, I wanted him to do another to make sure I didn't dream it! Appreciative murmers during, and rapturous applause afterwards. They did work well together I thought. The fake death was hilarious.

Leire Ortueta was the street dancer, she was quite exotic and did well despite the dreadful wig. Jenny Tattersall was Amour, she was lovely, bright and clean. Mara Galeazzi was the Queen of the dryads and she was good - it's a lovely role. Thomas Whitehead was Espada - fantastic cape twirling! He captured the right sort of proud, confident and flourishing air exactly.

I loved the little brise section with two peasant boys and Kitri's friends, then Basilio and Kitri - seeing Johannes do it just before Ivan was amazing!

The performance was over too soon - before I knew it they were all on stage for the final celebration dance. I do like this ballet - it is bright (I don't mean the VERY DIM lighting, sadly!) and jolly, lots of group dances, a bit of a pantomime with Gamache and the horse, something for everyone. If the dancers enjoy it, the audience does too and what could be better?

Laura got masses of flowers in the curtain calls - they just kept coming! Ivan had to grab her to get her to stay for her applause as she turned to go back! The audience was very appreciative - lots of bravos! I am so pleased about that cast change - the lady next to me had also got tickets especially. She expressed concern as to whether it was "the right time" to promote Ivan but agreed he deserves it. I wanted to stay for the evening performance too but decided not to as I am going tomorrow and twice on Saturday. But how much is too much?;)

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Well, I wasn't quite so enthusiastic as Lolly. I did like Morera, though - she's a very nice, unfussy dancer and she'd earned a go at a leading role and did very well. It must be a terrifying role for a debut but she hardly showed her nerves. I'd expected her to look at home in the comedy bits, but I was impressed at how good she was in the more serious episode at the beginning of the second act. Putrov looks happiest in his solos, when he doesn't have to do anything but dance - he was obviously finding some of the partnering a strain. He's lightly built and needs a year or two more to build up some strength. I think it's much kinder not to put two young, inexperienced dancers on together, particularly at a debut.

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Miyako Yoshida and Jonathan Cope, given their really glowing reviews last October, they were the cast I was most excited about seeing (and in the end, the only cast I would see).

I thought they were both terrific, probably my favourites. On paper, Yoshida and Cope sound like such an odd match. Yoshida appears smaller than she is on stage and must be almost a foot shorter than Cope. She has delicate, fine features and in contrast Cope has very striking ones and actually seems a little out of place in the whole village. I’m so used to seeing him in serious, romantic, non-smiling roles, he appeared very self-mocking and good-humoured in comparison. The way he really went for the mime and flourishes in the dance made him so endearing. And they look so good together! Their Basilo and Kitri had such a playful quality, a tender fondness for each other rather than fiery passion! He would look at Yoshida so sweetly! Their dancing is very well matched with beautiful lines and there’s something very pure and classical about it. Because of Yoshida’s small frame and Cope’s height, all of the lifts look spectacular. I really enjoyed all their scenes on stage, they were so charming, their acting unforced in spite of the pantomime-like feel of the ballet.

Yoshida looks joyous whenever she dances. She simply sparkles! She was coquettish without going over-the-top though apart from the perfunctory snaps at the wrist there wasn’t anything remotely Spanish about her Kitri. I just think it's criminal that she's been given so little to dance this season. She may be 36 (it occurred to me half-way that with Cope at nearly 40 they really are the seniors in the company) and she may feel herself that she's having to make way for the next generation, but I think she still gives as good as Cojocaru, Rojo, etc, etc. And it's hard to miss the amazing elevation on her jumps. She has the best jétè in the company, as high as Cope's. Yoshida has such wonderful, precise technique that makes her dancing a comfortable delight to watch. Her fouettes were bang on, no travelling at all.

It’s also nice to see Cope dance with someone other than Guillem or Bussell for a change. He doesn't have all the tricks that say Acosta has but that's fine. There's something so appealing and uninhibited about his dancing (to borrow a word from another poster) and it's refreshing. The only hiccup was a really scary fall by Jonathan in Act I that took him a minute to recover from, and though he looked energetic in the rest of the ballet, I hope he’s well enough to dance on Saturday.

Good, superficial fun, I was surprised to be really touched by Belinda Hatley as the Queen of the Dryads. Her arms, the shapes she makes with them are so soft and beautiful to watch. The way she stretches them out, they have that fluid, boneless quality to them. At the start of the garden scene, where she and Yoshida were doing a series of arabesques alongside each other, you could really see the difference, not that there was anything wrong with Yoshida’s arms at all.

I surprised myself in really enjoying the performance, though I have serious issues with the gypsy scene who have the most uninteresting choreography and terrible costumes imaginable. When I get to that bit I just want the panto and the battling of the windmills to be over as quickyly as possible. Likewise for the Fadango. I don't think any of the character dances worked well here. I actually quite like the Act I sets which are very pretty, but I agree the production as a whole is dreary and dark. The prologue may be the set up for the whole ballet, but the story is so trite and silly, really it could have done without it.

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The more I see this ballet the more I love it! I feel like I know it really well now too - I have seen it 3 more times in the past two days! I am getting a bit confused as to who did what, when, I'll have to refer to the cast sheets! It seemed to be the same people in it all the time, just slightly switching roles - very amusing to watch several performances in quick succession and see how they work these things out. We had "injury slips" included every time, so there must have been a lot of reshuffling after class every day. Hopefully not due to injuries though.

On Friday I saw Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta - they were just fantastic! They really went for it and took so many risks, it was SO exciting to watch. The one handed lifts lasted forever - the orchestra ground to a halt, I wondered if Carlos would let poor Marianela come down at all! Marianela pulled off multiple fouettes as if it was the easiest thing in the world. She is so lively and has such a good time on stage, it is infectious - you can't help but enjoy it along with her! Carlos was in top show-off mode, embellishing everything where he could with little flourishes. His fake death scene was spot on. I still think he isn't the most attentive partner, but then Marianela doesn't need him to be - she can pull it off on her own. But they make a great partnership in this as it is not serious stuff - they bounce off each other very well - neither will let the other get the upper hand and it makes for a stunning show.

Justin Meissner was the Gypsy Boy and was extremely good - whip cracking perfection! He gave it his all, he was fierce and proud - brilliant. David Pickering was the lead Fandango, he really came into his own - after seeing him in this earlier in the season I kept hoping he would do it again this time around. He is so rhythmic. I love the Fandango part, especially when they all move back and form into lines then move downstage changing directions - it looks so simple but as they all have to adjust which line they are in each time they change direction it must take so much concentration to all stay in line.

The Saturday matinee was Ivan Putrov and Laura Morera. It was nice to see them a second time. Ivan's fake death scene is the funniest, I think! The way he runs on with his cape covering his face, runs to Kitri and pouts a kiss, my goodness I was in stitches! He shines in the jumps and turns too - he isn't as flashy as Carlos, he is quietly precise and moves easily and fluently. Laura is good - not as confident as Marianela but very enthusistic - I wonder if she will get to do anything interesting in the coming season?

Saturday evening was Miyako Yoshida and Johan Kobborg. Miyako was lovely as usual but she is very safe -after watching Marianela, Miyako isn't half as thrilling. Johan was good too, he is always good. I can't believe how high he jumps - I admire Ivan for this usually but Johan was full of ballon! I preferred Carlos and Ivan's characterisations though. The rest of the cast really went for it, as it was the last one. It was great to see the rest of the them creating characters for themselves - as they all were in it all the way through mostly (Bennet's model of being a peasant, a matador, a gypsy and a fandango dancer prevailed - there seemed to be a lot of twin brothers and sisters in that village!) so it was good to see them making them different. If your character doesn't have a name, it is hard to become someone else just by changing your costume. Martin Harvey was Espada and he was wonderful - he gave the role sex appeal - with the street dancer he was fantastic!

Standouts for me were Johannes Stepanek and Ricardo Cervera in every performance - they work so well together in being the boyfriends of Kitri's friends. Disappointments were not seeing Zenaida Yanowsky at all this time around - she was on the cast sheet but then also on the injury slip - I hope she isn't injured. She is still the best Queen of the Dryads for me - the others haven't been half so expansive or serene. And also not seeing Darcey - I wonder if she will ever get to be Kitri?:( It was also a shame the whole thing was so dark - I am always surprised when the curtain goes up on Dulcinea's garden that is it barely lit at all!

I love all the group dances too - the village boys in act I is great, the matadors, gypsies and fandango - I would like to be in them all! From what I have seen I would cast Ivan and Marianela as the best Basilio and Kitri, Justin as the perfect Gypsy Boy, Martin as Espada, David as lead fandango and Zenaida as Queen of the Dryads. I don't much like the Street Dancer so I am having a hard time picking anyone - I wouldn't want to dance it - but Mara Galeazzi was the best I think. I saw Jenny Tattersall as Amour each time this week, she was exactly right. (Interesting to note that last time around Alina was dancing this!)

All in all a great week of performances - the company should be proud.:)

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I was in London last week and expected to see the stellar couple--Cojocaru& Kobborg in Don Q Wednesday night. But Nunez and Acosta didn't disappoint me at all. They were just fantastic, like what Lolly wrote. I saw Nunez a year ago in the Nutcracker and wasn't impressed much. But now she becomes one of my favourite RB dancers. I hope she'll be promoted principal in near future.

Nunez as Dulcinea and Galeazzi as the Queen of the Dryads were absolutely stunning in Act II. They both danced beautifully.

Acosta's solos were the fireworks. He brought the house down everytime he executed it. But I think I didn't see him doing the one handed lift that night. I don't think I missed it despite suffering from a jetlag. The overall performance was so good that I didn't even want to blink!

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In case anyone is interested here is the review from yesterday's Sunday Times, aptly titled "Cloak and Swagger" with reference to Carlos, who was brilliant as Basilio. It focuses on Marianela's Kitri, though they did get the wrong picture of her printed, it was of her being the Street Dancer! I was surprised they got it wrong, surely you can't mistake that black wig!! Enjoy xx

(I have copied it here because I'm not sure you can look at reveiws without being a member.)

Dance: Cloak and swagger

Don Quixote was made for showing off, and the Royal Ballet's dancers don't miss a trick, says Clifford Bishop

Don Quixote has historically been more often butchered for its divertissements than presented in its stamping, charging, on-the-hoof entirety, at least in this country. In principle, this is a shame, but as the curtain rises on the Royal Ballet’s full-length version you can’t help but feel your fingers twitching for a handy cleaver. The early signs are uniformly discouraging: the nicotine-stained set, the creaking jokes; the Don who, as his visionary madness increases, starts to look more and more like Baroness Thatcher; and the furry-pated, knob-horned monsters that, during the Don’s first hallucinatory glimpse of Dulcinea, bumble from the chimney like Teletubbies in bondage gear.

[the rest of this review was removed by LAW]

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