The reviews are in

Posted on: January 15, 2009

The first reviews of Don Quixote ballet, performed by the Mariinksy Ballet are in. New York Time and Washington Post give reserved praise on technique, but note that artistically the ballet executions came short. They lavish praise on Diana Vishneva, and rightfully so since she is a wonderful ballerina, but they are less forgiving about the rest of the cast. The main complaint is that the ballet failed to show real emotions between characters, and that somehow gave it a very superficial feel. You can read the review from New York Times here and the review from Washington Post here.
Now let’s think about Don Quixote for a moment. We are talking here about Don Quixote, the ballet, not Don Quixote, the groundbreaking novel. The libretto for this ballet was created from a short segment in the novel, so it certainly doesn’t address the whole story. It is a bravura ballet, which premiered in the 2nd half of 19th century, when big lavish productions of ballets were the norm. Granted the version performed by Maryiinsky was based on Gorsky’s revision, but even then, a certain formulaic norm had to be satisfied. It is a happy ballet, full light music, wonderful dancing, and not a whole lot of drama andsoul searching. I do understand the reviewers points about the lack of expression, and certain arrogance especially by a dancer dancing Basilio’s part. I could imagine the regal bearing of the dancer while dancing a part of a young poor barber, and it made me laugh.

In conclusion no one should go to see Don Quixote and expect deep internal struggle and poignancy, or else she/he will be sorely disappointed. Look for great technical bravura, and anything else you get out of that ballet, think of it as a bonus.


2 Responses to "The reviews are in"

So did you enjoy the performance?

I find the impressions of profession critics interesting – as an insight into the profession of ballet and ballet productions. But I am more interested in the impressions of a non-critic. Did you agree with the critics overall tenor that the dancing ws technically very good, but the story did not come across as strongly as could have ?

BTW The Royal New Zealand Ballet put on Don Quixote last year.


I really enjoyed the performance, but I do agree with the critics that some dancers were not as expressive as they could be. At the same time my expectations must have been different than the critics’. When it comes to Don Quixote, I prefer to see strong technical dancing with less expression than sloppy dancing with too much emoting. That it is what it was, so I was happy. But last year when I saw La Bayadere, I felt that I was not feeling Uliana Lopatkina as Nikiya. She was beautiful technically with long lines, beautiful extensions and superb control especially during adagios. However, she left me cold. I did not feel her love for Solor. La Bayadere is a ballet where being expressive kind of matters. But it was Mariinsky and I was so happy to see them perform that I “forgave” her.
Thanks for leaving the comment and the URL of your blog. I’ll make sure to visit it to see what is happening in ballet on your side of the world.

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