"Poetry and hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. All you can do is go where they can find you" – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Last night I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Gala performance of Don Quixote by the National Ballet. It featured a debut of Carlos Acosta’s choreography (he also took the lead role of Basilio (the poor Barbour who is in love with Kitiri the daughter of a Butcher)).
Visually, the production was epic — a real feast for the eyes with the stunning costumes, totally inhabiting the spirit of the spanish setting.The Choreography was stunning – Acosta really came into his own with his vital and fresh perspective of what the audience demands from such a production. Moreover, the interactions of the dancers within the company was a wonderful thing to see. They injected a sense of relaxation — as if they were performing only for the joy of dance itself and not to a judging audience which was again, refreshing.
The Costume department should be highly praised (as well as set designers). The outfits managed to blend seamlessly from scene to scene. To me it was only that of the Garden of the Dryads which seemed to ill fit the Les Miserables esque grit of the rest of the production. The “Sugar-plumb-Fairy” outfits were of course stunning and as magical as they should have been but the scene fell at the wrong time — reverting back to the traditionalist ballet as a kind of safety net after the extraordinary gypsy scene.
A particular favourite of mine was that of the matador Scene in the third act. Though I felt that the one in the first act lacked emotion — the character really came out later on. The Machismo choreography perfectly exentuate the epic feel of this relatively short production. While it managed to maintain a rough feel (typical of Acosta’s relaxed and yet excellently precise style of dance), and not helped by a few tumbles — when compared to Acosta I felt that many of the dancers had failed to grasp the more fluid style that Acosta uses in dance and therefor in choreography.
Marianela Nuez truly shone as kitri — the beautiful heroine. Not only was her motion enchanting but she added a dimension to the character that was very pleasing. Her feistiness was commented upon by much of the admiring audience and though there was a fall on the first act — all was forgiven by the second. She appeared to glide across the stage with Acosta, their chemistry and movement seemed attuned to one another making their relationship believable on stage.
The mixture of street and hip hop was so carefully interwoven with the classical ballet that one may not notice its non-traditionalism. The Gypsy camp is a perfect example of my point. While the choreography was incredibly sexualised ( a delight to see) the modern moves helped better to define the emotion on stage. One felt that surely modern dance must express these more raw modern Ballets where its incredible control will not allow for fluid sexual movement.
To conclude, Acosta managed to delineate the rigidity of ballet. He brought a little bit of the fire of Spain (aided by a wonderful score by Ludwig Minkus) to the stage — aided by his own Cuban passion. Though if you are asking me — there is no other dancer that can make ballet look quite so effortless as the man himself. With his presence on the stage he leaps with us into another dimension of dance