Don Quixote is a ballet with only tenuous links to Cervantes’ iconic novel but it is brim full of good dance. Petipa took one small incident in the story and developed it to create one of the world’s most enjoyable ballets; introducing a pair of young lovers, toreadors, street dancers, dryads and gypsies to suit his needs. It offers a plethora of roles and is overdue for revival by the company.
The premiere was brought alive by Yolanda Correa, the Cuban ballerina guesting from the Norwegian National Ballet. A dancer of rare brilliance she maintained her sparkle through three acts filling the auditorium with her warmth. The role of Kitri offers many facets.
She is spirited and coquettish in Act 1, then in Act 2 the runaway lovers enjoy a romantic duet in the moonlit shadow of the windmill. In the next scene, Kitri takes on the role of Dulcinea the idealised woman of Don Quixote’s dream giving the dancer a chance to show her lyrical strength. Finally Act 3 introduces the famous wedding pas de deux, a benchmarks of virtuoso excellence.
Correa, bursting with Cuban fire had all these qualities and was a perfect Kitri, flirting between tricky balances, fluttering her fan with eloquence and executing an immaculate set of fouettes.
In contrast her Dulcinea was a vision of beauty and dignity. Her Basilio, Arsen Mehrabyan, gave a solid performance strong on pirouettes but lacking the passion and mischief that are as necessary to the role as technique and stamina.