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
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
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.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals