PNB's 'Don Quixote' provides spectacle, story
Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Don Quixote" pulls the audience into the tale of a playful young couple, an aging knight and a dream.
Seattle Times arts writer
'Don Quixote'Pacific Northwest Ballet, 7:30 p.m. Thursday- Saturday, 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 7 p.m. Sunday, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $28-$168 (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).
A gloriously populated spectacle, Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Don Quixote" seems to practically jump off the stage into the audience. Making its American premiere, Alexei Ratmansky's lavish new version of the classic ballet (which also uses original choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, created more than a century ago) fairly bursts at the seams with vigor.
Its crowd scenes — and there are many, filling the stage with dozens of dancers — feel something like real life, with children (a fine group of students from the PNB School) laughingly imitating their elders and a host of tiny dramas being enacted among the supporting cast. While the dancing is often spectacular, this "Don Q" gives just as much emphasis to story, pulling us into the tale of a playful young couple, an aging knight and a dream.
On Friday's opening night, the couple — Kitri and Basilio — was played by Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz, who danced with a thrilling, catch-me-if-you-dare bravado. The "Don Q" pas de deux are historically an athletic tour de force, filled with press lifts held for longer than seems humanly possible (while high in the air, Kitri nonchalantly shakes her tambourine), lightning-fast spins and trademark jumps, and Körbes and Cruz attacked the steps with glittering confidence. Their chemistry was playful and charming — she swats him with a fan; he grins wickedly — and their spirit irresistible.
The ballet movingly presents the contrast between this carefree couple and the aging, befuddled Don Q (played by film and television actor Tom Skerritt, in a rare appearance on stage), who with his sidekick Sancho Panza (local theater actor Allen Galli) is on a quest to vanquish an imaginary enemy. The Don sees in Kitri his dream woman, and Skerritt and Körbes find something quite touching in their connection. Skerritt's face as the Don dances a clumsy minuet with Kitri is worth a dozen triple pirouettes: He's achieved, just for a few seconds, bliss. Galli is marvelous as comic relief, with both actors threatening to steal the show — though it's hardly possible to pull focus from the likes of Körbes and Cruz.
There are third-act problems in Ratmansky's version (though his is hardly unique in this regard), most notably a rote sequence that's all too obviously filler, created to cover a costume change for the principals. But Jérôme Kaplan's wildly colorful scenic and costume designs are a joy to look at — particularly the Don's heavenly vision in Act 2, which looks like a 1930s movie-musical fantasy — and the spirit of this "Don Q" stays with you as you leave the theater, dazzled by dance and believing, if just for a moment, in dreams.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org