Joffrey Ballet’s season opens with spectacular world premiere of Don Quixote

October 17, 2011
Review by The Examiner
Donna Robertson


Miguel de Cervantes’ early seventeenth century tale about the adventures emanating from one man’s imagination is vividly brought to life in the Joffrey Ballet’s lavishly produced world premiere of Don Quixote,filled with gorgeous costumes, exquisite dancing, a larger-than-life puppet horse, toreadors, lovers, and the fascinating world of the unlikely hero, Don Quixote. 

This ballet is beautifully choreographed by the former principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, Yuri  Possokhov (who also choreographed Bells in the Joffrey Ballet’s Rising Stars production last spring).  Valerie Robin, as Mercedes the street dancer, sizzles with sensuality and excitement.  The alluring dancing of Victoria Jaiani, as Kitri, the young woman betrothed to one man but in love with another, is a joy to watch.   Dylan Gutierrez, as Basilio, Kitri’s lover of choice, and Fabrice Calmels, as Espada, a famous toreador, bring remarkable athleticism and appeal to their respective roles.

The story, music, dancing, and choreography come together to produce a ballet filled with plenty of drama and passion, but also humor.

Derrick Agnoletti, as Don Quixote’s simple squire Sancho Panza, provides many amusing moments, but Matthew Adamczyk, as Gamache, is, without a doubt, the comedic highlight of the production.  His over-the-top interpretation of the bombastic, wealthy nobleman who is betrothed to the unwilling Kitri is a humorous counterpoint to the dramatic moments in the story.

Rocinante, Don Quixote’s faithful horse, is actually a larger-than- life puppet, supported by two dancers and designed by Chicago’s VonOrthol Puppets.  The presence of the dreamer Don Quixote, the simplistic Sancho, and the puppet horse together reminds the audience that Quixote and his imagination and dreams of chivalry are the basis for all of the fantastic tales unfolding on stage.

The costumes, designed by Travis Halsey, are simply stunning; even the peasants’ costumes are attractive.  Whether the focus is on one costume, such as the gorgeous black and pink full-length dress of Mercedes, or a stage full of alluring costumes during ensemble dances, the effect is an aesthetically pleasing visual treat for the audience.

The musical score, performed by Chicago Sinfonietta and conducted by Scott Speck, matches the pageantry of the performance on stage.

Don Quixote is a beautifully produced ballet that delivers on every level.  This production continues at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E. Congress Parkway) through Sunday, October 23, with 7:30pm performances Thursday through Saturday and 2pm performances Saturday and Sunday.  Click here to purchase tickets.