Review: Don Quixote – A Spanish feast for ballet lovers

| March 24, 2013 | 2 Comments
Sanmarie Kreuzhuber displayed a beautiful strength as Kitri.

Sanmarie Kreuzhuber displayed a beautiful strength as Kitri.
Photo courtesy of South African Mzansi Ballet

Call me greedy, but I just wasn’t satisfied with one performance of Don Quixote, so I had to go back for seconds.

It’s a good thing too, because even though both performances (by the South African Mzansi Ballet at the Joburg Theatre) had that sizzling Spanish spice throughout, it was revealing to see how different dancers can take the same basic ingredients and create a whole new experience.

Of course, everyone has a different palette and while some like it sweet, others like it spicy.  Actually, I quite like both and got both with Sanmarie Kreuzhuber and Shannon Glover, who each performed as Kitri on the two nights I attended (Kitri being the lead female role).

Sanmarie was a delight to watch with her strong technique, and she brought a touch of endearing sweetness to her character. In contrast, Shannon delivered a fantastic fieriness with her version of a sassy and flirty Kitri.

One for the men

Brooklyn Mack from The Washington Ballet danced as Basilio in SA Mzansi Ballet's Don Quixote

Brooklyn Mack from The Washington Ballet performed Basilio as a guest artist.
Photo courtesy of South African Mzansi Ballet

As for the lead male role of Basilio, Brooklyn Mack (all the way from The Washington Ballet) partnered Sanmarie with dazzling strength and control, flashing a cheeky “yeah I got this” kind of grin after effortlessly completing a one-arm lift. And Michael Revie sure knows how to serve up some enormous jumps a la virtuoso!

Talking of jumps, the SA Mzansi Ballet took grand allegro and made it mucho grande, which is probably very bad grammar in Spanish, but you get the idea right? I mean big, really beeeg. And high, something that Luis de Castro knows all about.

Ay Caramba, that boy has jaw-dropping elevation! And I mean no disrespect by ‘boy’, but that was his character – ‘Creado’ the mischievous street boy – although he may as well have been the Pied Piper the way the audience followed him across the stage.

But while Luis grabs your attention with his too-many-to-count turns and jumps, others magnetised me with their perfectly polished poise. Never mind pirouettes, Australian Aaron Smyth had me just with his walk. He danced Espada (the macho lead toreador) with tremendous stage presence and what seemed to be an impeccable sense of timing.

For that matter the other Espada, Jonathan Rodrigues, had a similar quality to his dancing and I would’ve loved to see him dance as Basilio too.

Fumbles, falls and foibles?

Well yes, we saw some fumbles and a mis-step or three. Also, while the music for Don Quixote is lovely and lively, the actual recording seemed to be clipped unnaturally short at the ends. This lack of a smooth fade-out occasionally jolted us into a what-now? kind of awkward silence.

Ah, but then Aaron would confidently walk across the stage and suddenly all was well again in Sunny Spain. Any moments of unease were swiftly soothed by the charm of the cast in their blaze of bright and bold costumes.

Overall, the entire performance was a delicious feast for the senses, brimming with humour and brilliance.

And did I mention the beeeg jumps?


For the curious, here’s a clip of Aaron performing a variation from Don Quixote during the finals of the Prix de Lausanne competition back in 2010. Now you’ll see what I mean about that walk…

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Performance

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Neal says:

    I saw two productions of Don Quixote and I must say I agree with all of the author’s points. This production certainly has bright colours and a vivid appeal. Overall, I thought it wasn’t as polished as the previous incarnation by Msanzi Ballet (before they merged with SABT) at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City last year. Alys Shee played Kitri in that production and she was an absolute pleasure to watch. Never a moment’s hesitation or even a hint of uneasiness. The principle female dancers weren’t as strong this time around, but they were good to watch nonetheless. Definitely worth seeing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *