A sun-filled, fun-filled frolic of a ballet, Carlos Acosta’s production of Don Quixote for Birmingham Royal Ballet delivers on colour, energy, bling and some spectacularly virtuosic dance.
There is little in the way of plot: slightly deranged old knight seeks adventure – boy meets girl – boy can’t marry girl because he has no money – but then all obstacles are improbably overcome so boy does marry girl – strange old knight continues his quest. The paucity of narrative, however, is not a problem; we’re not here for high drama or raw emotion, we are here for the leaps, turns, lifts and choreographic fireworks which BRB’s highly skilled ensemble of dancers serve in abundance.
Mathias Dingman, in the role of the afore mentioned boy, Basilio, has an impressive and athletic presence and drives his energy into the floor to create seemingly effortless elevation and lightness of movement. Dancing the part of the girl, Kitri, Momoko Hirata is at once both powerful and delicate, poised and fluid. As a couple they move beautifully together. Their pas de deux at the start of Act II is heavenly with some highly expressive changes of flow and direction during lifts that illustrate how totally in sympathy they are with one another.
Special mention is due to Tzu-Chao Chou, a puckish Amour – so fleet of foot that he appears to barely make contact with the floor.
Conductor, Paul Murphy and his band work hard in the pit to breathe life into Ludwig Minkus’ essentially quite trite and repetitive score. Arranger, Hans Vercauteren, lifts the musical quality with a specially written Act II Campfire Sequence which brings three live guitar players on to the stage and, while remaining true to the musical language of the source material, displays much greater compositional imagination.
The shortcomings of the original score aside, the production and choreography lavish upon us everything one could wish for in an Iberian fantasia: oodles of suave flamenco flourishes, more brocade that you can shake a stick at, clicks and claps, mantillas and matadors, fans and fandangos and a good deal of heartfelt Mediterranean warmth.
Creatives and Cast
Choreography – Carlos Acosta (after Marius Petipa)
Production – Carlos Acosta
Set & Costume Design – Tim Hatley
Video Design – Nina Dunn
Lighting – Peter Mumford
Stages by – Christopher Saunders
Arrangement and New Musical Material – Hans Vercauteren
Don Quixote – Tom Rogers
Sancho Panza, his squire – Kit Holder
Lorenzo, the innkeeper – Valentin Olovyannikov
Kitri, his daughter – Momoko Hirata
Basilio, a young barber – Mathias Dingman
Gamache, a rich nobleman – Rory Mackay
Espada, a famous matador – Brandon Lawrence
Mercedes, a street dancer – Yu Kurihara
Kitri’s Friends – Miki Mizutani, Yaoqian Shang
Two Matadors – Gabriel Anderson, Haoliang Feng
Gypsy Couple – Emma Price, Javier Rojas
The Queen of the Dryads – Yu Kurihara
Amour – Tzu-Chao Chou
Dulcinea – Yvette Knight
Fandango Couple – Emma Price, Max Maslen
Townspeople, Matadors, Gypsies, Dryads – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Students of the Royal Baller, English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet
Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Conductor – Paul Murphy
Leader – Robert Gibbs
Original music by Ludwig Minkus