Impressive performances as Russian ballet company get their teeth into a Spanish tale.

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

April 4, 2014

They impressed theatre-goers with their Festival of Russian Ballet last October, and the Imperial Russian Ballet Company did not disappoint when they returned to Brisbane for two nights only, performing Minkus’s Don Quixote in full.

Founded in 1994 by Bolshoi Theatre soloist Gediminas Taranda, the Imperial Russian Ballet has established a reputation for talent and versatility and have toured the world with both full length traditional ballets and shorter ‘divertissements’. The four acts of the original Don Quixote ballet were compressed into three for this rendition with little compromise on the plot, presenting a humorous affair that was very well-received by the audience.

Debutante Daniil Kolmin brought the endearingly misguided hero, Don Quixote, to life while Denys Simon matched him as the buffoonish Sancho Panza. They joined star-crossed young lovers Kitri and Basilio, danced by Lina Seveliova and Nariman Bekzhanov respectively, as the story followed their adventures throughout Spain.

The heady intensity of swirling toreador capes and Spanish skirts created a great sense of excitement and the grand pas de deux exceeded expectation with dramatic one-handed lifts, fish dives and seemingly endless pirouettes earning audience admiration and applause.

Intricately painted sets transported us to 17th-century Barcelona, with costuming used deftly to change the mood. Pale blue tutus shimmered faintly in the low light, giving Don Quixote’s dreams an ethereal quality, contrasted against the more intense red, black and gold that dominated the Barcelonans’ costuming.

Nariman Bekzhanov brilliantly embodied the part of Kitri’s charismatic lover Basilio. He shares the role with Alexandru Balan, who played the handsome toreador Espada in the Brisbane performance. Both men have been performing with the Imperial Russian Ballet for several years and gave highly technical performances injected with huge quantities of personality – Bekzhanov carried out his role with a sense of cheeky, happy-go-lucky charm and Balan with much pomp and flamboyance, as befitted a toreador.

But the true highlight of the evening was Lina Seveliova performing the part of Kitri. In fifteen years of eager spectating, I have never seen a more technically flawless performance than hers. I found myself gasping out loud as she performed perfect pirouettes and seemingly effortless grands jetés. Exuding the wilful personality of her character as she executed the choreography with style and precision, Seveliova is what all ballerinas aspire to be.

In saying that, every single dancer on stage played their part impressively. While the corps can often act as little more than well-dressed furniture, the Imperial Ballet’s cast acted and reacted throughout the performance, keeping the audience engaged. Physical comedy was also incorporated into the dancing, making the performance as acrobatic as it was balletic at times, and adding an extra level of humour.

The Imperial Russian Ballet performs Don Quixote on their Australian tour April 4-May 18