MIAMI CITY BALLET
DON QUIXOTE (2-6-09)
By Lawrence Budmen
For sheer entertainment and balletic mastery, Miami City Ballet’s production of Don Quixote is hard to surpass. A large, highly demonstrative audience greeted the show’s opening night on February 6 at the Arsht Center with a prolonged standing ovation and cheers.
Originally created in 1869 for Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet by legendary Russian choreographer Marius Petipa, Don Quixote was restaged in 1900 by Alexander Gorsky. Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov have produced their own versions of this colorful spectacle (to a toe tapping, Spanish flavored score by Leon Minkus). At this late date, it is impossible to discern how much of the original Petipa choreography remains in the ballet and it hardly matters. Miami City Ballet turned this three act work into a joyous celebration of the art of dance. That is reason enough for kudos!
The ballet’s scenario revolves around a loving couple, some greedy villains and Cervantes’ would be knight who helps bring everything to a happy ending. In their fast paced production, Geta Constantinescu and Edward Villella wisely keep the plot to a minimum and concentrate on the classic, Spanish styled character dances and flashy ensembles. With the eye catching sets of Tom Boyd and multi-colored costumes of theatrical laureate Santo Loquasto, this production is one terrific show – balletic Broadway, if you will.
For sheer boldness and artistic courage, nothing can top the performance of Mary Carmen Catoya as the heroine Kitri. This impressive ballerina’s stunning extensions, spins, high speed pyrotechnics and sheer lyrical grace continue to astound. Catoya’s dance artistry has grown by leaps and bounds throughout her Miami City Ballet career. Her Kitri is a great, thrilling performance! As Basilio, her partner Renato Penteado was no less impressive. Penteado’s heart stopping, wild leaps and aristocratic partnering were at the apex of this high voltage evening.
The charismatic Jennifer Kronenberg exuded sensuality as the street dancer Mercedes and Carlos Guerra (as the matador Espada) and the male corps did a terrific cape dance – twirling the matadors’ capes in rhythm while executing high stepping choreography. With these terrific dancers and the company’s precision corps de ballet, the Act I pas de deux and divertissement were show stopping events.
In Don Quixote’s dream sequence in Act II a blonde wigged Tricia Albertson was light and sparkling as Amore while the veteran Deana Seay proved ever the consummate ballerina as the Queen of the Dryads. As the Lady Bridesmaid in the Act III wedding scene, Jeanette Delgado executed lithe spins with feathery deftness. Appropriately the famous pas de deux (long a staple of the ballet repertoire) marked a thrilling climax to a memorable evening. Catoya and Penteado executed Petipa’s rapid fire footwork to perfection. Above all, the great ensemble dancing brought color and character to this Don Quixote – a great performance by South Florida’s world class ballet company.