Greco, as Kitri's love Basilio, executed difficult turns with power
and precision, supporting but not upstaging his partner. Daniel
Deivison-Oliveira, as Espada, with Jennifer Stahl's Mercedes
performed an elegant and polished pas de deux, among other excellent
was no lack of outstanding performances. Kimberly Marie Olivier was
sultry as the Gitana Woman in a sultry gypsy costume. The
dancing of Jennifer Stahl, Isabella DeVivo, and Julia Rowe shone as
Kitri's friends. Koto Ishihara, Queen of the Driads, and Norika
Matsuyama, as Cupid, were dazzling as well as charming. The eponymous
role of Don Quixote was played by Jim Sohm with endearing seriousness
and buffonery. His comical and inept sidekick Sancho Panza was played
by former principal dancer Pascal Molat, now on the faculty of the
San Francisco Ballet School. The over-the-top elegant dandy Gamache
was performed with comic brilliance by Alexandre Cagnat, whether
losing his wig or fanning the fainted Don with his handerchief.
Quixote as a ballet bears little resemblance to the epic novel by
Miguel de Cervantes. Choreographed originally by Marius Petipa and
performed by the Bolshoi in 1869, different choreographers, including
Balanchine, over the years have put their own spin on the production.
The traditional Gorsky/Zakharov-choreographed version was first
performed in the USA by the Boshoi in New York in 1966. In this month
forty-eight years ago, Nurerev's version of Don Quixote was first
performed in the United States by the Australian Ballet in San
Francisco at the start of a 17-city tour.
current San Francisco Ballet production, which debuted in 2012, is a
grand achievement, boasting dazzling costumes and impressive scenery
by the late Martin Pakledinaz. The only thing missing is a clear
portrayal at the beginning of why Don Quixote sets out on his quest.
Absent is the dream or vision sequence of some other productions that
demonstrates his fixation on chivalry and the ideal woman.
aside, this is a grand and magnificent production with outstanding
dancers. The set changes require two intermissions, making this a
longer-than-usual ballet. It is well worth it. San Francisco Ballet's
Don Quixote runs from January 25 through February 2 at the War
Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.