Tribune dance critic Kathy Adams reviewed the Friday night opening of Ballet West’s “Don Quixote,” which she labeled “wildly entertaining.” She praised the dancing of 19-year-old Beckanne Sisk in the lead role of Kitri, with principal Christopher Ruud as her Basilio. Adams’ reported the audience spontaneously erupted in cheers as Sisk confidently executed 32 (maybe even 38) fouteé turns connected by triple pirouettes in the grand pas de deux. Ruud’s love for moving large on the stage was never more evident. Through no fault of his own, Ruud’s usual expert partnering seemed effortful at times as he tried to rein in Sisk’s extraordinary flexibility — which appears to be her only weakness.
In this update, Adams returned to review the dancing of the Feb. 11 cast.
Artistic Director Adam Sklute is to be complimented for giving opportunities to more dancers by creating four alternating casts, but audiences can expect to experience the ballet differently from cast to cast. The addition of some remarkably dedicated children from Ballet West Academy as cherubs and puppets in the meta-play genuinely adds to the performance.
On Saturday evening, the lead roles of Kitri and Basilio were danced by soloists Sayaka Ohtaki and Tom Mattingly. Their intrinsic musical phrasing authenticates the inner-life of the romantic story — as if the two are privy to something uniquely between them. Mattingly is resonant with Ohtaki’s movements, and she draws energy from looking into his eyes. Extraordinary characters are created through their seeming contradictions — her delicate body contains a steely strength and Mattingly’s rugged masculinity softens and succumbs to her every need.
The men’s Spanish Dance remained strong with standout performances by artist Owen Gaj and Ballet West II member Joshua Whitehead. Artist Katie Critchlow’s Cupid had a special spark, and my eye was consistently drawn to her throughout Act I. Artists Kuei-Hsien Chu and Elizabeth Weldon are articulate and fluid dancers.
Saturday’s performance was a reminder that character parts in a story ballet are essential to the audience’s emotional buy-in. Artist Adrian Fry’s central character of Don Q. moved too quickly and purposefully to be the eccentric knight. Whereas Alexander MacFarlan was more fully defined as a character in portraying the Don’s sidekick-squire, Sancho Panza, but the relationship between the two was less evident than the previous night with Aidan DeYoung as Sancho Panza and Beau Pearson as the Don. The crucial comic bit of the shield and lance being too heavy for all other characters to lift, but effortless for Don Q., was pretty much lost.
Adding “Don Quixote” to its trilogy of classics (“Giselle,” “Swan Lake,” and “Sleeping Beauty”) gives Ballet West an opportunity to continue to refine an already exceptional company.
Update: Ballet West’s ‘Don Quixote’
P Wildly entertaining, thanks to expansive music, sets, costumes and great dancing.
When • Reviewed Saturday, Feb. 11; through Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 18.
Where • Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $19-$75 (plus handling fees); at 801-355-ARTS or arttix.org.
Running time • Two hours and 30 minutes, with two intermissions
Warmup • Ticketholders are invited to Warmup Q-and-A conversations with Ballet West artistic staff an hour before the performance.
Also • For Kathy Adams’ original review, visit bit.ly/yh1ogt.