Stuttgart Ballet@Home: Don Quixote – The Dreamer of La Mancha

January 22, 2021

Maggie Foyer

Don Quixote is not a ballet we look to for intellectual stimulus but it’s ideal for high voltage dance to fire up a dull, wet January day. Choreographed by Maximiliano Guerra after Marius Petipa and filmed in 2017, this version follows a fairly traditional path plus a hefty dose of Spanish zest and innovation to spice the mix.

A dazzling Kitri and Basilio head the production. Elisa Badenes with her wide, engaging smile is a woman who knows who she wants and how to get him, while Adhonay Soares da Silva is the perfect match. She can hit a six o’clock split while he nonchalantly holds her aloft on one arm. She zips effortlessly through 32 fouettés and he counters with pirouettes that not only spin more than most but miraculously slow to a breathtaking balance. They playfully plot, escape and return to a triumphant wedding, never allowing their classical finesse to dominate the sheer joy of youthful passion.

Elisa Badenes as Kitri in Don QuixotePhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Elisa Badenes as Kitri in Don Quixote
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

Guerra neatly balances the work by bringing other characters to the fore. Don Quixote is merged with his creator Cervantes, impressively played by Matteo Crockard-Villa. He is a dreamer whose fertile imagination spurs him to action while his muse, the beautiful Dulcinea, played by Myriam Simon is also given a substantial dance role. Never far from his side, all smiles and gentle caresses, the pair are cleverly woven into the fabric of the work, constantly on hand to carry the drama forward.

In the fantasy sequence amongst the Dryads, his dream is played out in a romantic duet with Dulcinea. She introduces Kitri then steps aside leaving Badenes to dance her variation and to express a gentler, lyrical quality. As the Queen of the Dryads, Ami Morita was on brilliant form both authoritative and graceful, leading a corps of precision dryads.

Rocio Aleman as Mercedes and David Moore as José-Antonio also have more prominence. They are introduced in a whirlwind of red and orange cloaks in a display of male posturing carried on a thumpingly good tune by Minkus. The seductive glamour of the street dancer and the arrogance of the toreador are an irresistible coupling. In addition, Moore gets a new, overtly Spanish solo in the tavern scene, which compensates for a ‘death’ scene that is even more bizarre than usual.

Ramon Ivars’ costumes designed with a keen sense of colour and effective fine detailing are a delight. The women’s slender skirts cut with inserts in brilliant colour come gloriously to life as the dancers moves into action. His abstract set, a metal tracery embossed with letters, dresses the stage in a variety of guises without dominating it and, in a magic moment, transforms like a giant Meccano kit to become the Don’s famous windmill.

Louis Stiens as Sancho Panza in Don QuixotePhoto Stuttgart Ballet
Louis Stiens as Sancho Panza in Don Quixote
Photo Stuttgart Ballet

A mention too for Louis Stiens’ lovable Sancho Panza, constantly on the prowl for food or a likely lass. Also, Kitri’s friends, Agnes Su and Veronika Verterich whose vibrant presence and excellent solos added to a quite amazing Grand pas de deux.

Thank you Stuttgart Ballet for making this available.