DANCE / Taking a tilt at success

THE Royal Ballet's new production of Don Quixote has sparked a controversy. Nureyev created Don Quixote in 1966 for the Vienna State Opera Ballet and was deeply wounded when the Royal Ballet later turned it down as not its sort of thing.

So why do it now? The company is particularly strong at present and had no trouble selecting six leading couples. In its quest to balance the books, it is capitalising on rising attendances. For the financial year which ended in March, audiences rose from 82 to 87 per cent. All the full-length ballets sold out.

The Royal Ballet has opted for Baryshnikov's 1978 version, based on Petipa's 1869 comic original, probably because Anthony Dowell, the director, danced the lead when he was a guest with the American Ballet Theatre, Baryshnikov's company at the time. This version has been described (or condemned?) by Irek Mukhamedov as 'a Hollywood spectacular' while Nureyev's has more dance. Mukhamedov should know. Last month he danced the Nureyev version for the Australian Ballet.

Don Quixote will succeed: it has lots of stars, is undemanding and glamorous, owing its spectacle to Mark Thompson's contemporary sets and luscious costumes. Cervantes' Don Quixote links episodes in the love affair between Basilio (Mukhamedov), a young barber, and Kitri (Viviana Durante), the daughter of an innkeeper, who opposes their union, preferring instead Gamache (Stephen Jefferies), a pompous fop. The story is slight, and so is the choreography, its flashiness lacking the depth of Petipa's later masterpieces, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

On Wednesday, the company tried on the new show for size. So intent were the dancers on getting the moves right, they seemed to forget to be the characters. No doubt this will change, as will the slight drop in energy when Basilio and Kitri (Viviana Durante) are not on stage. Bruce Sansom, fiery as the matador, and the spry Nicola Roberts keep the piece swimming. There are one-arm lifts, back bends, jumps, turning circles, but these flash by, flowering into sequences only in the dream and at the wedding. Mukhamedov is flirty, funny, every bit the besotted groom. Durante, like Mukhamedov, is marvellous to watch. She has a sultry smile on her lips but not yet in her eyes. Jefferies, a natural comic, has no need to milk the knockabout bits.

With Don Quixote in its repertoire, the Royal Ballet has been accused of losing its distinctive national flavour, becoming just another international company offering standard fare. It is said to be giving too much attention to 'museum' pieces and not enough to preserving the national heritage, creating and buying in new works. The success of a recent triple bill - Fokine's Firebird, the premiere of David Bintley's Tombeaux, and the relatively new In the middle, somewhat elevated by William Forsythe - shows audiences are ready for new works, but none is being commissioned. There is a dearth of new choreographers within the Royal Ballet, but no shortage outside (the names of Michael Clark, Matthew Bourne and Christopher Bruce spring to mind).

The company disputes all these arguments. It says it can offer the museum pieces, which are good box office, while developing other areas. It recognises new works are the lifeblood of the company, and is buying more Forsythe and La Ronde, a French ballet. Although few of the good British choreographers have created large-scale works, the Royal Ballet is making an unprecedented commitment to developing new choreographers by introducing small-scale tours. The company will take new works on tour. Twelve more dancers will be employed to ensure the Covent Garden performances are not affected by the tours.

The company says the success of the Fokine / Bintley / Forsythe triple bill springs not just from audiences' readiness for new works. Research shows other factors at play: a line-up of stars and the right formulation - a well- known overture, a new work and a big number. The company intends to develop this recipe.

Continues at Covent Garden (071- 240 1066), Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living