10/10
Regularly Interesting And Forward Moving Choreography, Noteworthy For Its Style, Acting And Experimentation.
6 October 2012
This thoroughly watchable contribution from the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), presented at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City during June of 1983, not on the side, but with a good deal of ballyhoo, provides an updated production of an oft-performed standard work from the 18th century Imperial Russian dance repertoire, Don Quixote, a vibrant two act ballet enacted to the music of Ludwig Minkus, and to the established choreography of Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky. The choreography here has been somewhat updated by Mikhail Baryshnikov, but yet becomes an amalgam of the traditional and the modern, with the latter having the edge to please, in front of a rather less than discriminative audience that fails to acknowledge a number of radical shifts made away from the original ballet, such as the scoring of Patrick Flynn, Australian composer. Baryshnilov, director of the ABT and its temperamental artists, is ever impressive, and more so when one considers his dancing skills, on agreeable display during this fragmentarily recounted piece from the too often ignored Minkus. Staging of the piece is satiny smooth, with the scenery and costumes designed by Santo Loquasto proving to be worthy in creativity for this too-seldom performed war horse that is moved effectively into contemporaneity by Baryshnikov and his troupe. Dancing of the ensemble is a good deal more than adequate in developing synchronism between Minkus and the various choreographic contributions from creative talents old and new. There is substantially more to this ballet than the familiar final pas de deux chestnut, danced during the elaborate wedding festivities (the film's subtitle is "Kitri's Wedding). Cynthia Harvey, one of the more mannerly members of the troupe, performs as Kitri, the female lead; unfortunately, her inexperience becomes a primary factor in the piece as it progresses, Making the most of Baryshnikov's original notations is brilliant new soloist Susan Jaffe as Don Quixote's dream Mercedes. She later became a ballet mistress for the ABT. It is, however, Baryshnikov who determines that the Minkus Don Quixote as a ballet retains much of its original vigor. The Latvian dancer's wondrous tours en l'air are completed with total control and, although a rather thin and uneventful storyline is not precisely stimulating through any rendition, this one of Baryshnikov is spectacularly pacy and if a viewer's interest wanes, the ABT will be shortly on board to restore audience focus from both the leader's dancing and choreography.
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