David H. Koch Theater, New York, NY; July 23, 2014
“Don Quixote” is not really about the old man who is always chasing windmills and searching for his Dulcinea. It is actually about two young Spanish lovers, Kitri and Basilio. Petipa’s goals for the ballet were spectacular dancing, lively music and good time for the audience. The Bolshoi Ballet’s production delivers all three.
This “Don Quixote” is a sunny and sparkling ballet full of brilliant dancing and many comic touches. It does not quite live up to my memories of seeing Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev dance the leads in the American Ballet Theatre production in 2013. I’m not sure, however, that any performers would be able to equal Osipova and Vasiliev.
At the July 23rd matinee Ekaterina Krysanova was a spitfire of a Kitri. She had a slight slip at the beginning of her Act I variation but recovered nicely and the rest of the solo was splendidly performed. Her leaps with the kicks to the back of her head were very exciting and her chainé turns were done at a breakneck pace. In Act II, as Dulcinea, she showed off light soaring grand jetés. During the Act III grand pas, however, she only held two of the required five balances and those balances are not held very long. In my mind’s eye I still see Natalia Osipova holding her balances for so long that time stood still. During the coda of the grand pas, Krysanova travelled very little during her fouettés, all done on the music.
As Basilio, Semyon Chudin showed off his strong technique. His leaps had great elevation and his turns were clean and fast. He was a very secure partner, holding Krysanova one-handed over his head for several counts – then he did it again, holding her a few seconds longer. Chudin does need to work on his comic timing a bit, though; Krysanova is ahead of him in that area.
The other dancers were also marvelous. As the Street Dancer, Maria Vinogradova performed incredible backbends. Her gorgeously supple upper body was a wonder to behold. Denis Medvedev’s Gamache was both amusing and endearing. As Sancho Panza, Roman Simachev showed off his acrobatic skills to great comic effect. It was delightful to see him twist and turn in the air as he is being tossed around on a blanket. Olga Smirnova was an elegant Queen of the Dryads. Her grand jetés are especially lovely, but I do miss seeing the Italian fouettés which are usually done during the Queen’s solo.
All in all it was an enchanting afternoon at the ballet.