Don Quijote by the National Ballet of Cuba in Vancouver (ballet review)

Last night, I had the most amazing opportunity to witness the National Ballet of Cuba stage Don Quijote. Having been a dancer all my life, classically trained during my childhood and a fan of Alicia Alonso, Executive Director of the National Ballet of Cuba and one of the very few prima ballerina assoluta, I was waiting for this day since early last year when it was announced that the National Ballet of Cuba would be touring Canada for a few weeks and offering their amazing spectacle, Don Quijote.

National Ballet of Cuba

Credit: Jacques Moatti

Riveting, powerful and gravity-defying, the National Ballet of Cuba dancers showcased world-class ballet for the Vancouver public. An almost-sold-out, packed Queen Elizabeth Theatre gave not one, not two but THREE standing ovations to the display of outstanding artistry and athletic prowess displayed by the dancers of the National Ballet of Cuba.

National Ballet of Cuba

Credit: Jacques Moatti

Don Quixote is a wonderful comic ballet based on the Cervantes story. One of the most technically challenging works ever created, the ballet is rarely performed because of the sheer bravura required. Choreographed by the legendary Alicia Alonso from the original work by Marius Petipa, and set to the music of Ludwig Minkus, the company is being brought to Vancouver in memory of long-time dance impresario David Y.H. Lui (+) by Brent Belsher.

We clapped for a solid 7 minutes on the third standing ovation. Nobody wanted to let the dancers go, and given how sometimes Vancouver publics are a tough sell, I think this speaks for the caliber of classical ballet we witnessed last night.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra tale, Don Quijote is an icon of Spanish culture, an unsung hero who fought imaginary giants, windmills and loved his Dulcinea, in his delirious mind, representation of love. Alicia Alonso’s choreography keeps the performance incredibly faithful to de Cervantes Saavedra’s tale.

Cuban dancers have a unique dance style: they are trained with the classical Russian technique, but blend with it their own Latin American flavor, energy and spice. As indicated in the program, the National Ballet of Cuba is one of the most prestigious dance companies in the world and Alicia Alonso has created a long-standing institution and style of ballet.

While the technical wizardry of all the cast members was absolutely impressive, I was most fascinated with the agility of the dancer who represents Basilio (the barber). And every solo he performed, he knew he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Each performance has different dancers as well, which I find absolutely fantastic. Kitri, Lorenzo’s daughter, is a delight to observe. And all ensemble pieces are a display of technical finesse and athletic prowess. With flawless attementes, arabesques and deboules, each member of this main cast shines without making any fuss about being a central character or not. Towards the end of the show, in the third act, Kitri performs a series of fouettés rond de jambe en tournant that prompted the public to stand and clap even before she was done.

National Ballet of Cuba

Credit: Jacques Moatti

You still have a few opportunities to access this amazing performance tonight and this weekend. Tickets range between $47 and $97 and are absolutely worth every cent.


Disclosure: My guest and I attended on complimentary media tickets. I have not been paid to write this review, nor compensated otherwise, and no review was expected. Even in the case of a review, it’s not expected that I will provide a favorable one. As always, I retain full editorial control on anything published on my site.

Related posts:

  1. Don Quixote by the National Ballet of Cuba in Vancouver (Feb 16-18, 2012)
  2. Love Lies Bleeding featuring Alberta Ballet, presented by Ballet BC
  3. National Ballet of Canada on Tour (review)
  4. National Ballet of Canada on tour (giveaway)
  5. L’Amour (Goh Ballet) at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts

Comments (3)

AnabelleFebruary 17th, 2012 at 11:40 am

I want to see it.. but it’s expensive. :(
Anabelle recently posted..Employment–at last!

C TestarFebruary 17th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I can’t believe your review is the only one I’ve so far found on the web today after, like you, having been privileged to enjoy the Canadian premiere performance of “Don Quixote” last night at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Viengsay Valdes was beyond amazing! Osiel Gounod was beyond incredible! The entire corps was flawless in technique and presentation. Wave after wave of well deserved applause throughout the entire performance certainly attested to the audience’s enjoyment. I’m thrilled that my husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy such an outstanding production. The entire production was spectacular and the performances simply unforgettable. It just isn’t possible to recommend this it more highly. Forget the cost. You just can’t miss the opportunity to see this awesome company.

RaulFebruary 17th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Considering that there are tickets starting at $47, and that’s usually what one may spend on a night out on this expensive town, may be worth considering it :)

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