DON QUIXOTE - Anette Delgado foto: Jacques Moatti
DON QUIXOTE - Sadaise Arencibia foto: Jacques Moatti

Don Quixote

Choreography by Alicia Alonso

Dates and Venue 16 – 18 February 2012, 8pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Performers Viengsay Valdés, Osiel Gounod

Reviewer Michael Pink

The Cuba National Ballet, one of the most celebrated dance companies in the world, graced the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver for the final performances of its illustrious Canadian tour, with a dazzling presentation of Don Quixote.

The classical ballet company was founded in Havana, Cuba in 1948 by Alicia Alonso and her late husband Fernando Alonso. Senora Alonso, born in 1920, is a dance legend and still guides the company as both an artistic and spiritual force. Her legendary status in the world of dance comes from the richly creative guidance of the company for 63 years and memorable performances as a principal dancer, most notably in Giselle in 1943.
An illustration of her greatness and resilience is the fact that she was partially blind since the age of 19 yet still continued to dance with extraordinary beauty and grace. Alonso’s list of Cuban and international awards is testament to her legendary status.

The opening night performance was electrifying. Prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés, a native from Havana, is celebrated as one of the top dancers in the world. Her ranking is #6, yet on this evening, the audience's reaction was unanimous: she is the first lady of dance.

Ms, Valdes has won several prestigious dance prizes and awards and was promoted in 2001 to the coveted title of Primera Bailarina. Valdes, in the lead role of Kitri, is outstanding. Her movement is extraordinarily elegant yet possessed on fine strength and mastery of control. In dance circles, it is known as the ‘Iron Butterfly’.

Male dancer, Osiel Gounod, is a virile, strong and energetic dancer to watch. His credentials are outstanding having achieved the rank of 21st best dancer in the world and at the youthful age of twenty-one.

Aristotle once said that, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.” To see Valdes and Gounod perform is to see artistic excellence. They electrify the stage. Valdes also has a dynamic ability to dance en pointe for extended periods which is sensational to watch and this clearly dazzled the audience.

Ludwig Minkus composed the music for Marius Petipa's ballet Don Quixote, which was staged for the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow in 1869. It was later revised in a production for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg in 1871.

Well known Canadian arts impressario David Y. H. Lui worked diligently to bring the company to Vancouver. His unexpected death was a loss, yet the show was carried forward and its presentation is a fitting tribute to him.

The rich musical tapestry of the evening was enhanced by the stellar talent of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. For many years, the Cuban National Ballet performance of Don Quixote will remain one of the jewels in the Vancouver crown of dance memories.

© 2012 Michael Pink