ABT, DON QUIXOTE, MET OPERA HOUSE, NEW YORK CITY, JUNE 5, 2003

 

DON QUIXOTE

Guest Review by Christofer de Oni

I walked home from the Metropolitan Opera House on June 5th, 2003. The cascade of emotions were still flowing through my veins, mind and heart. I could not confine myself in the back seat of a New York City yellow cab. I had to walk. As I looked up at the clear night sky, I said “God, thank you for allowing me to be present at the Met tonight, for enriching my soul with such emotion….it was a privilege to experience the Nina Ananiashvili spirit!”

I am not alone in this assessment. All present at this historic performance of Don Quixote with the American Ballet Theater felt exactly what I felt. In baseball terms, she hit a grand slam home run! She is the Babe Ruth of ballet.

Dancing Kitri, the Spanish spitfire, with her alabaster skin, black hair and eyes, she is the woman Cervantes had in mind when he wrote the famous tale. At times coquettish, sultry, mischievous, alluring and yes….sexy.

Her partner, making a Basilio debut was the Brazilian Marcelo Gomes. How excited he looked…. And why not? He is dancing with the prima ballerina assoluta of the world.

Her grand jeté entrance in the first act soars and establishes the character and style of the piece. She handles her fan with natural ease and with a large rose on her chignon she looks like a Velazquez painting.

She is beyond technique. What fascinates, is what she does with it. The nuances within the choreography. A raised right eyebrow as Basilio romances another woman then seductively doe-eyed as he comes to reassure her.

The second act in which Don Quixote dreams his ideal woman is romantic lyric perfection. Her variation which starts with piqués en attitude derrière are worthy of a Michelangelo statue, then to daring leaps culminating in whirlwind piqué turns ending in a perfectly balanced arabesque. Her épaulement is ravishing.

The plaza scenes which are many, are hilarious in their theatrics. Watch Nina sprinkle water on Basilio’s face to resurrect him from his just committed suicide!.

The final wedding grand pas is what everyone is waiting for. Admirable in its clear sharp sequences, her balances were not to be believed, eliciting gasps from the audience. The variation has dazzling footwork and the coda with its famous fouettés are done with both hands resting lightly on her hips in fast tempi. The finale drew a standing ovation.

Mr. Gomes handled the partnering with ease and security throughout. His variation needs more abandon and flair but this will come. His coda with à la seconde turns whipping into quadruple attitude en dehors was solid. Bravo to him.

I have seen Nina dance for 20 years. The first time when as a teenager out of the Bolshoi Academy she was invited by the great Cuban assoluta Alicia Alonso to dance in a festival in Havana. Her partner was Andris Liepa in a diamantine Sleeping Beauty pas de deux. She has never danced a role the same way twice. She amazes me each time. She is friendly and unassuming. Though a true diva, she never behaves like one. She stands in a straight line along with the greatest ballerinas of all time…..beginning with the first – Anna Pavlova. Her chapter in ballet history is firmly established. What is comforting is that it is still being written.

Your fan and friend,

Christofer


Note: The Friends of Nina in New York thank Christofer for his straight-from-the-heart review of Nina’s performance. You can always tell if Christofer is in the audience. He’s the one screaming “Bravo! Nina Assoluta!”