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Boston Ballet

Don Quixote

By Christiana Briggs

March 30-April 9, 2000

The Wang Center

Boston Ballet’s production of Don Quixote is a brilliant rendition of Miguel de Cervantes’s classic 17th century literary tale. Originally created by choreographer Marius Petipa for Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet in 1869, this version is staged by Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Anna-Marie Holmes, choreographer Caroline Llorca, and an amazing all-star cast of Russian coaches: Ballet Mistresses Tatiana Legat and Tatyana Terekhova and Ballet Master Sergei Berejnoi.

What makes this new version of the ballet intriguing is the addition of several traditional Spanish dances, including dances with castanets, handmade Spanish shawls, and tambourines. It added spice and flair to an already lively ballet and, combined with excellent coaching, dancing, and acting, created an evening of which Boston Ballet should be proud.

Don Quixote is a ballet with chivalry, romance, and comical adventure. It tells the tale of an elderly and slightly delusional Spaniard, Don Quixote, who, sitting amidst his books, dreams of a fair lady, Dulcinea. He believes that he must save this fictional lady from peril and sets off on his adventures, in search of Dulcinea, with a comical squire Sancho Panza.

Thursday evening’s opening night cast was spectacular. The lead dancers, Yury Yanowsky as Basilio and Aleksandra Koltun as Kitri, the Barcelona maiden Quixote imagines as his Dulcinea, were perfectly matched. Both dancers have clean, strong technique, beautifully long lines, and an onstage chemistry that created a magical partnership.

Yanowsky has matured into a spectacular dancer both technically and artistically; he is certainly Boston Ballet’s leading male dancer. His excellent technique was apparent during his solo variations which included high jumps and numerous turns, while his artistry was showcased through his interactions with Kitri, from coy flirtation to comic death.

Koltun was stunning. Technically flawless, her high kicks, beautiful jumps, and sharp, dynamic style -- matched with her flirtatious and flamboyant personality -- made her an ideal Kitri. In a tragic turn of events, Koltun fell at the end of the second act and had to be carried off stage. She will be sorely missed as she recovers from her injury, a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Larissa Ponomarenko, who was to perform the role of Kitri on Friday night, replaced Koltun for the third act of the ballet. She showed great poise and appeared unflustered as she danced the final act and traditional wedding scene pas de deux with Yanowsky. Ponomarenko’s was a more delicate and tender interpretation of Kitri, but her dancing was close to perfection -- clean, crisp, and beautifully executed, including the 32 fouette turns during her solo in the third act.

The dancing overall was lively and energetic. Boston Ballet’s dancers were able to smoothly transition from classical ballet into flamenco and seguigilla, dancing with capes, shawls, tambourines, and castanets, which required a great deal of practice and coordination.

Of particular note was Simon Ball, who performed the role of Espada, a lead matador, and April Ball, who performed a stunning solo as a gypsy woman.

Vadim Strukov almost stole the show as the hilariously funny Gamache. His ability to wield a cane, umbrella, and lace handkerchief caused giggles to ripple across the audience. The young girls from the Boston Ballet school who performed en pointe as cupids in the second act maintained perfect lines and demonstrated amazing young talent. In particular, the lead cupid, 13 year-old Janine Ronayne, shows great promise. The role of the lead cupid was originally performed by a young girl in the 1869 Bolshoi Ballet production, but most ballet companies choose to have the role performed by a woman. This is the first time Boston Ballet has chosen a talented young dancer from the school to perform the role.

The costumes and sets, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, transported the audience into a world of steamy Spanish taverns and wild gypsy camps, with flashy black and red costumes and handmade shawls from Spain. The bright costumes provided a sharp contrast to the beautiful rusty orange hues of the scenery and sets. This is an exciting and memorable new production of Don Quixote.