Review: Los Angeles Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’ has stand-out dancers but is burdened by questionable staging
Adam Luders, on horse, is Don Quixote and David Renaud, left, performs as Sancho Panza in the Los Angeles Ballet’s “Don Quixote,” which premiered at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center.(Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Adam Luders, center, is Don Quixote to David Renaud’s Sancho Panza in the Los Angeles Ballet’s “Don Quixote.”(Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Julia Cinquemani and Kenta Shimizu are the charming Kitri and Basilio in the Redondo Beach staging of Los Angeles Ballet’s “Don Quixote.”(Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Kenta Shimizu and Julia Cinquemani make strong partners as Basilio and Kitri in Los Angeles Ballet’s “Don Quixote.”(Jenna Schoenefeld / For The Times)
Midway through its 10th anniversary season, Los Angeles Ballet added another full-length classic to its repertory, a three-act “Don Quixote,” which the company premiered at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday.
It is, like the company’s productions of “Giselle” and “Sleeping Beauty,” traditional and familiar. Choreographed by artistic directors Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen, “Don Quixote” owes much to Russian ballet’s Petipa-Gorsky version.
On opening night, Kenta Shimizu and Julia Cinquemani were the charming lead couple, Basilio and Kitri. In this production, the jealous feuding is mere playfulness, and they come off as simpatico lovers.
Shimizu is an assured and exciting soloist, controlled but in the moment. He has always been a strong partner, but here, with those risky one-handed lifts, his steadfastness is golden. The worldly wise Cinquemani shows off her pliancy and high kicks, and she never breaks out of that broad smile.
It was a treat to be there as Adam Luders again took on the role of the confused knight errant. The onetime New York City Ballet principal had performed it in George Balanchine’s very different “Don Quixote.” Character dancer David Renaud was the jovial and put-upon Sancho Panza.
SarahAnne Perel makes a sprightly and sweet Amor, while Bianca Bulle shines with warmth and a smooth delivery in several roles. Allyssa Bross is a saucy Mercedes, her pointe work precise and snappy. Zheng Hua Li leans into the part of the dandyish Gamache, making it extra fun. Erik Thordal-Christensen gives Espada a serious edge.
The corps de ballet is lively; there are plenty of waving fans, clanging tambourines and lots of hooting. Raising this production to the next level will take more spontaneous energy, the kind that True exudes merely by walking onstage.
Los Angeles Ballet is still young and has to make do with some less-than-optimal situations. The Redondo Beach stage is shallow, and it hurt the ballet in several spots, such as in the Dryad scene, which failed as a display of Petipa’s classical purity. The lighting was too dark at the end of the gypsy camp scene, and my companion missed the Don being lifted by the windmill. And how about if Sancho Panza pinches or kisses the women, rather than lifting up the backs of their skirts as though he were a 5-year-old?
There’s still life in these 100-year-old story ballets. More spontaneity and attention to details will go a long way with this one.
Los Angeles Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; and 7:30 p.m. March 26 at Royce Hall, UCLA
Tickets: $31 to $99
Info: (310) 998-7782, www.losangelesballet.org
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