Ballet review: Don Quixote danced from the stage!

‘Don Quixote’, the Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes written in 1605, has the central message that individuals can be right while society is wrong. It was duly considered radical for its

Increasingly in 2022, the same message is both strong and relevant to convey today.

More or less the same
‘Don Quixote’ was first performed in in 1983 by the renowned director Jens Jacob Worsaae. No dared to see it again for 40 more years.

In 2016, Nikolaj Hubbe then took the ballet in a new direction away from Worsaae’s somewhat pompous but well-functioning scenography.

And now, six years later, still with Hubbe underway, the scenography and costumes have changed again, and a few adjustments have been made to the steps. But otherwise everything is very much the same.

Sublime dancers
If anything, this ballet on the Old Stage is a partial re-enactment of the Russian classic ‘Petipa’, as Don Quixote and his traveling companion Sancho Panza are merely supporting characters in a story about a young couple in love.

The young couple is danced with great bravura by Holly Dorger and Jonathan Chmelensky. They are both sublime dancers. Dorger with his angelic beauty and strong stage presence is particularly compelling as a young man in love.

Among the rest of the cast, Chmelensky, the daring barber, is a less convincing choice but an excellent dancer.

Soft colors
This is a very long ballet with two breaks. The scenography by Steffen Aarfing is bland – especially in the first act, where the beautiful Spanish folk costumes, designed in gray duce tones by Annemarie Woods, have nothing special to play against.

The scene is a bullfighting arena held in a light gray ocher with a large stationary blue sky, but only a touch of orange as a background – and that’s the problem.

The lighting by Lee Curran is meant to represent the warmth of the Spanish sun, but a warm sun should bring the colors to life and provide exciting shadows. The little red dots, delivered by red roses tossed around the stage, are not enough to make this the visual pleasure it should be.

Selfies aside
Nevertheless, the woman sitting next to me was clearly impressed. Whenever she could, she was busy taking selfies with the scene as a backdrop. I wish the performance on stage could have caught her attention more, but no: she was clearly engrossed in what was her main task at night.

The set design, costumes and lighting invited to more colors during the second and third acts, but even with the last act – the big party – it was never visually spectacular enough, even though my neighbor kept taking selfies.

Highly recommended
Nevertheless, this ballet can be highly recommended to the excellent dancers and uplifting Royal Orchestra conducted by Matthew Rowe.

Also, make sure you have a good overview of the fine introduction 30 minutes before the show.

Source: The Nordic Page


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