This was an excellent production of a marvelous work of art. A big classic 19th century ballet like Don Quixote truly contains multitudes. There are toreadors of course, and fair ladies of Spain, but sailors, gypsies, and dryads also appear, all of them coming together in everything from duos and trios performing the most challenging of maneuvers en pointe to energetic ensembles doing the polka. Ballet masters Marina Fliagina and Gary McKenzie are to be congratulated for bringing out the best in this large cast, and for supplying the spectacular leads, Aaron Smyth as Basilio and Kate Kadow as Kitri, with everything one could hope for in terms of support, counterpoint, and fantastic pageantry.
One of the most appealing aspects of Don Quixote is the potent appeal of its comedy. Sergei Domrachev led the way with his witty and dynamic portrayal of Gamache, the unsuitable second suitor who is anything but witty and dynamic. It’s incredibly fun to watch someone enter into the seething world of a major ballet moving at full clip who’s tasked with making it look hard, rather than easy. Yet somehow Gamache’s pathetic little leaps and stumbles don’t throw the whole scene out of kilter, and what’s left is an even more amazed appreciation of the intricacy of what’s going on, along with quite a few LOLs. Cecily Stewart had a great turn as a sailor on leave, wielding a wine bottle like a trophy and capering neatly around the interior of a tavern with her fellow crew members, Thomas Fant, John Piel, and Mauricio Vera.
Likewise the duo of Sancho Panza (Dominique Tan) and Don Quixote (Steven Jasso) provided some slapstick moments, including one antic sequence in which Sancho goes airborne against his will. In some ways the most satisfying of all the many layers of satire comes through in the performances of Anna Carnes and Meredith Harrill as the BFFs of the lovestruck Kitri. Using their considerable feminine wiles along with just a touch of sheer physical force, these two conspire to distract both Gamache and Lorenzo, Kitri’s father (Gary McKenzie), long enough for Kitri to spend some alone time with Basilio. They also get the pick of the night’s many dazzling outfits. Valery Levental’s costume designs were amazing, as were the many lightning changes achieved by the cast and the wardrobe team. Scene II of Act Two, “The Dream,” was especially impressive in every way. It was hard to believe how complete a change in mood and look the group was able to create for this out of this world journey. Seemingly impossible to top, but not when you’ve got a palace wedding still to come. Act Two, Scene III was everything a ballet fan could possibly hope for in a finale, with Leila Drake and Jack Stewart offering a Bolero to offset the principal couple’s Grand Pas de Deux. Kate Kadow and Aaron Smyth both delivered the goods in high profile roles designed for maximum athleticism and rigorous technique. Don Quixote showed what State Street Ballet can do with the heart of ballet’s classical repertoire, and it left the audience clamoring for more of it.