The dancing man of La Mancha Review

March 30, 2007|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

The Naval Academy's Distinguished Artists Series ushered in spring with the ballet Don Quixote, performed by the Moscow Festival Ballet dance company at the academy's Alumni Hall.

The 40-member Moscow Festival Ballet was founded in 1989 by Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer Sergei Radchenko, who wanted to form a troupe that featured classical elements of the Bolshoi and Kirov companies and would stage new productions of classics like Don Quixote as well as 20th-century ballets such as Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella.

Now on a 17-week U.S. tour, the company is offering fun and excitement in well-executed dancing. Although the canned music at the March 21 performance could stand upgrading to a more sonorous recording, the sets were adequate, the costumes attractive and the young dancers able and energetic.

The ballet Don Quixote, based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, was created by choreographer Marius Petipa and set to the music of Leon Minkus. It has enjoyed success since 1869.

Although the ballet has undergone many choreographic changes since then, this rendition had been researched in 2000 by Radchenko and largely represents Petipa's original design.

The program, however, was inadequate and gave no casting information. Three female dancers were listed as the possible principal dancer in the role of Kitri and two males in the role of Bazille.

While Naval Academy staff provided a partial cast list several days later, it is impossible to credit all the superb dancers in leading and secondary roles.

Goukhar Usina displayed not only excellent technique but also had an ethereal lightness and grace as Kitri, the Barcelona girl whom Quixote imagines to be Dulcinea, his true love. Usina's third-act solo included an impressive number of fouette turns, a particularly difficult move.

Male dancers excelled, although Alexander Daev as Bazille seemed to hold back early on. He reached top form in the wedding scene when he dazzled with his elevations, strength and easy athleticism. Timur Kinzikeev, as Espada the matador, displayed a commanding presence, magnificent speed and excellent cape maneuvering.

Corps dancers maintained beautifully disciplined lines throughout the performance and moved smoothly from classical to flamenco to Gypsy dances while using such props as capes, fans, tambourines and shawls.

Particularly impressive were Anatoply Kazatsky as Don Gamache, Kitri's thwarted suitor; Viacheslav Aksnov as Lorenzo, Kitri's father; and Alexander Rupishev as Sancho Panza, who moved with speed and grace while providing an element of fun and freshness. Ivan Kaoitororov portrayed Quixote.

The Moscow Festival Ballet is engaged in a grueling challenge on this tour. If the young company manages to convey a similar boisterous joy and grace at its other performances, it will have achieved a resounding success.

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