Don Quixote - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The Independent

Show People: Latest thing at the ballet: a jump-jet: Teddy Kumakawa

THE LAST time I saw Tetsuya Kumakawa dance he was a mandolin player in Romeo and Juliet. This is not the kind of role that makes headlines: he doesn't, for instance, have a heterosexual affair. Nevertheless, Kumakawa won the only spontaneous outburst of applause that evening. Kumakawa always gets a good reaction. The time before that, I'd seen him dance an excerpt from Don Quixote. He leapt so high there was a beat in the middle, where he hung in the air, neither going up or going down. The audience did that very rare, very corny, thing. As one, it gasped.

FILM / A lifetime tilting at windmills: Two 'lost' Orson Welles films had premieres last weekend. Quentin Curtis saw them

THE TEARS shed at the death of Orson Welles were as much for the lost films as the lost film-maker. Welles, who described cinema as a 'ribbon of dreams', died with a tangle of films dreamt but unmade. Still more tantalising are the films abandoned, mangled, stolen, or lost: 45 minutes of The Magnificent Ambersons; his last film, The Other Side of the Wind, now locked up in Iran. The master magician's work did its own disappearing act: now and then you saw it, but usually you didn't.

DANCE / Dancing in the dark: Britain's best-loved dance company is out of funds and out of favour. Anne Sacks on a crisis at the Royal Ballet

AN EXCITING new work of dramatic complexity from Kenneth MacMillan, one of the giants of 20th-century ballet. A specially commissioned piece by William Forsythe, creator of the Royal Ballet's stark hit In the middle, somewhat elevated. Plus a familiar favourite. This is the dream programme with which the Royal Ballet intended to launch its season next Saturday - but won't. MacMillan died a year ago, leaving the company without a resident choreographer. And the new Forsythe ballet was cancelled because the money dried up. What audiences will see instead is a rapidly re- arranged programme that includes new works by two company dancers; Herman Schmerman, a ballet Forsythe made for New York City Ballet; and a reworked version of MacMillan's Different Drummer. The Royal Ballet is in crisis. Regarded as one of the foremost ballet companies in the world because of its large repertoire and wealth of stars, it is struggling to survive, financially and artistically. The glory days of the Sixties and Seventies, of the nobility of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, of Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable, may well be over for good. So what is going wrong? How come one of Britain's most distinguished national institutions has been set adrift?

BOOK REVIEW / A good man in Africa Too small for history: 'On the Contrary' - Andre Brink: Secker, 14.99

ON 8 JUNE 1734, Estienne Barbier, a native of Bazoches near Orleans, sailed from Amsterdam in the good bottom 't Huys te Rijnsburg, bound for the colony on the Cape of Good Hope as a midshipman, or adelborst, in the service of the Dutch East India Company. He left with his mentor Jeanne d'Arc, whom he smuggled into the hold in his substantial chest, and he took with him three of his father's most valuable possessions: a copy of Don Quixote, a gold watch, and an uncontrolled capacity for confabulation.

BOOK REVIEW / Mary, Mary, quite contrary: Writing dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World by Carol Brightman: Lime Tree, pounds 20

IN HER story 'C'est le Premier Pas qui Coute', Mary McCarthy describes her fictional self as 'one of those cowards who are afraid not to be brave'. But it is that fearful knowledge of necessity which creates bravery, and her courage, as much as her intelligence, formed and sustained her remarkable life.

ARTS / Exhibitions: Shape of things gone by

A NEW Gillian Ayres exhibition always creates excitement, in the first place through her daring and panache. Can a less cautious artist be imagined? Certainly the bravado of her sumptuous and liquid surfaces, high colour, and rushed and whirled pigment is unequalled. That's one reason for visiting her show at Purdy Hicks.

DANCE / Smile's better: Louise Levene enjoys a Don Quixote that reveals Sylvie Guillem's flair for comedy

What kind of masochist spends all day watching a ballet production they don't even like? Seven weeks after the premiere of the Royal Ballet's Don Quixote, the work remains an unfocused mishmash of virtuoso dancing with no plot to speak of and no characterisation to write home about. Yet Saturday's final two partnerships (Miyako Yoshida and Tetsuya Kumakawa, Sylvie Guillem and Oliver Matz) made you forget all that.

DANCE / Up, up and away

THE choreographer Siobhan Davies is going one way - and it's up. She is a recent winner of an Olivier Award for outstanding achievement in dance, and her latest piece, Wanting to Tell Stories, shows there is plenty more where that came from.

Bitter pill for Hamlet or Don Quixote: Pope Paul VI by Peter Hebblethwaite: HarperCollins pounds 35

POPE Paul VI is remembered chiefly as the pope who banned the Pill. Peter Hebblethwaite believes that this is unfair to a man whose outlook was more modern than the present Pope's. Paul's dithering - it took him two years to deliver his verdict on the Birth Control Commission report - was a feature of his pontificate: 'Am I Hamlet or Don Quixote?' he once wrote. But, Hebblethwaite argues, he was anxious not to hurt people, and his 'tortured subtleties' look more attractive now that John Paul II is decisively rejecting many of the liberal values he upheld.

DANCE: Negative crash flow: Judith Mackrell on O Vertigo at the Place, plus Don Quixote

The body-battering dance style that's been dubbed Eurocrash isn't a uniquely European phenomenon - dancers in Canada have also acquired the habit of hurtling themselves indiscriminately against hard surfaces or passing bodies. La La La Human steps was one of the first companies to vaunt their bruises as art, and close on their heels came O Vertigo.

DANCE / The goodtime girl: Judith Mackrell reviews Don Quixote at Covent Garden and Antic at Sadler's Wells

THE Royal Ballet's new Don Quixote may be a simple frolic of a ballet, but it's substantial enough for different dancers to stake their own interpretations. On Wednesday night, Fiona Chadwick gave us a much larkier Kitri than Viviana Durante's. Though she pushed for nearly as much fire and crackle in the choreography, the general impression was of a goodtime girl intoxicated by her own high spirits. This Kitri also seemed intoxicated by her own erotic power. Though Chadwick didn't act sex and, in this most Latin of ballets, had her own very English physicality to contend with, she exploited every insinuation in the music and every languorous swoon in the choreography to suggest that Kitri was desperate to get into the marriage bed.

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.

DANCE / Clicking fingers, stamping feet: Judith Mackrell on illicit love among the gypsies in the Royal Ballet's new production of Don Quixote at the Royal Opera House

BY ANY standards, Don Quixote is a silly ballet. Its story - only glancingly indebted to Cervantes' novel - follows the most elementary of romantic plots. Its score, by Minkus, is at best rousingly danceable, at worst repetitive doggerel. And its choreography, Petipa re- worked by Gorsky re-worked by Baryshnikov, is packed with fake-Spanish fireworks. If you look for the mythic resonances of Swan Lake, the musical sophistication of Sleeping Beauty or the choreographic poetry of Bayadere, then Don Quixote stands exposed as a very second-division 19th-century ballet.

We have fans and mantillas; have we the legs?: Louise Levene watches the toil, sweat and temperament as the Royal Ballet prepares its new 'Don Quixote'

'MEN'S legs] Men's legs]' comes the plaintive cry of a beautiful ballerina in distress. Viviana Durante, in rehearsal for the Royal Ballet's glamorous new Don Quixote, which opens on Wednesday, stares at the mirror and pinches her tiny thighs in disgust.

Obituary: Reginald Woolley

ADAM BENEDICK's excellent obituary of Reginald Woolley (20 March) concentrated on his long association with the Players Theatre but failed to mention his work in other theatrical fields, writes Tom Hawkes.
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