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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2017
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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2017

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American Ballet Theatre

Don Quixote 2017

David H. Koch Theater

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Kara Medoff Barnett, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Clinton Luckett, Assistant Artistic Director
Susan Jones, Principal Ballet Mistress
Ballet Masters: Irina Kolpakova,
Carlos Lopez, Nancy Raffa, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Jenny Lee, Director of Marketing
Susie Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 19, 2017

(Read More ABT Reviews)

(See a Conversation with Conductor, David LaMarche, on the Spring Season Ballet Music.)

Conductor: Charles Barker

Don Quixote (1978): Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, Staged by Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Arranged by Jack Everly, Scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Natasha Katz. Performed by Clinton Luckett as Don Quixote, Sean Stewart as Sancho Panza, Maria Kotchetkova as Kitri, Herman Cornejo as Basilio, Craig Salstein as Gamache, Patrick Ogle as Lorenzo, Devon Teuscher as Mercedes, Blaine Hoven as Espada, Sarah Lane and Luciana Paris as Flower Girls, Lauren Bonfiglio and Zhiyao Zhang as Gypsy Couple, Devon Teuscher as Queen of the Dryads, Skylar Brandt as Amour, and the Company as Waiter, Toreadors, Toreadors’ Companions, Sequidillas, Gypsies, Dream Maidens, Guests at the Wedding, Townspeople, Vendors, and Children.

Don Quixote entered ABT repertoire in 1978 at the Kennedy Center in Baryshnikov’s production. Vladimir Vasilev staged a different production in 1991, and the present production was performed in 1995 at the Met Opera House. (ABT Notes).

The plot centers on the adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza, as they follow the vision of Dulcinea. In Sevilla, Kitri, daughter of Lorenzo, is in love with Basilio, a poor barber. Lorenzo wishes to marry his daughter off to Gamache, a nobleman. Don Quixote sees in Kitri the vision of Dulcinea, and all three men pursue Kitri. In a Gypsy Camp, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza see Kitri and Basilio, and Don Quixote attacks a Windmill that appears to be a monster and falls asleep, dreaming of Kitri and Dulcinea. When he awakens, he thwarts Lorenzo and Gamache’s search for Kitri and Basilio.

When Lorenzo “forces” Kitri to commit to Gamache, Basilio pretends to die, and Kitri tries to wed the “corpse”. The awakened corpse is affianced to Kitri, Gamache disappears, and the wedding takes place onstage. Don Quixote continues to search for Dulcinea. (ABT Notes).

Don Quixote is a full-length comedic ballet with much ado about endless flirting, hiding, a grab here, a kiss there, and so on. There’s also an Act II ravishing dream sequence. As Kitri and Basilio, Maria Kotchetkova and Herman Cornejo are seasoned partners, but their chemistry is annoyingly thin. The comedy falls flat and the kisses and grabbing seem unwanted. In tonight’s performance, there seemed to be less time for dancing, when they usually run and hide from Lorenzo, Kitri’s father, who wants to marry her “up” to the foolish nobleman, Gamache. Also, in a lift, when Basilio carries Kitri and walks about the stage, there was less time than usual, as Ms. Kotchetkova was briefly held aloft on Mr. Cornejo’s arm. Ms. Kotchetkova was dour in her 32 fouettés, in her flirtatious pretend scene with Basilio, as he fakes death to trick Lorenzo into approving a near death marriage, in her dream sequence with Amour and the Dream Maidens, and, especially, in the Wedding. I long for another performance of the partnership (that was) between Mr. Cornejo and too-soon-retired Xiomara Reyes.

But, in his solos, Mr. Cornejo did not disappoint. He is not only a masterful dancer, but also a credible actor. He twisted his torso proudly in toreador motif as Basilio in pursuit of a bride. In the Wedding Scene, he danced with muscular prowess and intense speed and alacrity. His elevation is still astounding. Lauren Bonfiglio and Zhiyao Zhang were the Gypsy couple, and the Gypsy Camp was illuminated in their lightning energy. Mr. Zhang catapulted in spins with bent knee and effusive energy. Devon Teuscher, as the hot, fiery Mercedes, a street dancer, was neither hot nor fiery, but she exuded style and sensuality. She was better suited to the subdued and sublime Queen of the Dryads in the later, surreal moments. Ms. Teuscher layered and shaded her performance with personality and brightness of spirit. In the Dream Scene, Skylar Brandt, as Amour, was outstanding, fluttering like a butterfly, with sweet youthfulness and sprightly grace. A star of the evening was Craig Salstein, as Gamache, a bumbling, foppish nobleman, who draws the eye, even during dervish dance elsewhere on the stage. Mr. Salstein has an operatic theatricality, truly camp and comic in this case.

Blaine Hoven had a star turn as Espada, the Matador, and he threw himself into entertaining, although he lacked the requisite dark, exotic tones. His long limbs suited the elegant, Spanish-styled choreography. Clinton Luckett was the endearing, confused Don Quixote, who grabs the windmill and falls to the ground (a dummy replaces him here), to dream and to keep chasing his Dulcinea. Mr. Luckett has big shoes to fill, as none other than Victor Barbee was so grand in this role. His Sancho Panza, Sean Stewart, dutifully added wit and balance to each scene. Sarah Lane and Luciana Paris were enthused, engaging Flower Girls, both gorgeously shining in the moment. Patrick Ogle, as Kitri’s father, Lorenzo, was hugely witty in the money scenes with Gamache and the empty-pocketed Basilio. Charles Barker kept the Minkus score radiant and propulsive. Kudos to Herman Cornejo for his stunning performance.

Herman Cornejo with Cast in "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at