The Australian Ballet opens its 2013 season with a classic ballet from the company’s repertoire – Don Quixote, as interpreted by Rudolf Nureyev for The Australian Ballet back in 1970.
Though I’ve been going to the ballet for decades, for whatever reason Don Quixote has passed me by until now so I had to brush up on the plot before I attended the opening night performance as a guest of the ballet.
Thanks to my pre-reading I was prepared for a convoluted storyline based on the Cervantes novel, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the farcical and ridiculous tone. On the one hand you could view the slapstick as lighthearted and cheery (as my date did). On the other hand I thought that the flounce-and-bounce, while comical at times, meant that the ballet lacked the emotional charge that you would find in say Romeo and Juliet or even Swan Lake, which arguably also has an outlandish plot.
Fortunately, the excellent dancing made up for the lack of dramatic engagement. There were a few mishaps on the first night, with wobbles, dropped props and an obviously missed lift front and centre of the stage, but overall I was impressed by the performances by the principal leads Daniel Gaudiello and Lana Jones as the two young lovers, Basilio and Kitri and as always, by the energy of my favourite male soloist Chengwu Guo.
Gaudiello was a joy to watch, with the incredible lightness of his footwork and as he floated through the air in his jumps it was as if he was suspended by wire. The beautiful Jones produced moments of impressive technical brilliance, with pirouettes and fouettes turns galore.
As for the company the most enjoyable part for me was in Scene 2 Act 2 which had the corps de ballet displaying graceful balanced lines and perfect unison. It was enjoyable purely for the aesthetics of its choreography and I liked the classically moulded tutus much more than the flouncy dresses and bell-shaped skirts worn by the women in the other acts.
After my first taste of Don Quixote I can honestly say it’s not my favourite ballet. But I think it is a fun night for a dance fan if you just want to sit back and enjoy a performance that’s not too emotionally taxing. Its light-hearted antics and vibrant costumes also might mean that it’s a performance especially suitable for children who have the stamina to sit through a 2.5 hour performance.
Don Quixote is only showing until 26 March and you can get a sneak preview of highlights here. Also if you own an Entertainment Book then you can currently buy 1 get 1 free Adult ticket (A, B or C-Reserve) until 5pm Monday 18 March and the offer is valid for performances on 19. 20 and 21 March.
Don Quixote, The Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
15 – 26 March (13 performances)
Bookings australianballet.com.au | 1300 369 741