The Philippine Ballet Theater kicks off its 29th season with nothing less than a blinding explosion of brilliance as they staged Don Quixote, a ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, and whose music was composed by Ludwig Minkus.
The ballet, divided in four acts and eight scenes, was based on a couple of chapters from the novel written by Miguel de Cervantes. It presents Don Quixote (showcased by a very endearing Andrei Roslovstev), a true idealist living in a world of fiction where one of his greatest loves, an imagined Dulcinea, is found.
At the center of the story are Basilio (performed by the alchemist of movements Joseph Phillips) and Kitri (who was the heavenly dervish Lobreza Pimentel). The two are lovers who were initially burdened by the threat of separation in the form of Kitri’s father, Lorenzo. Being an innkeeper, Lorenzo (Anatoly Panasyukov) was pained to see his daughter settling for a commoner, the barber Basilio. He tries to set her up with a rich nobleman Gamache (played with villainous arrogance by Butch Esperanza). Also woven into the story are other memorable characters danced exceptionally by the company. What happens with the lovers and how the story unfolds are executed in a series of movements delivered with much technical precision with the blossoming of each supporting cast of dancers.
The show proudly features guest artist Joseph Phillips, dubbed as Ballet’s Golden Boy. His career in ballet boasts of stellar accomplishments such as winning a gold medal in several ballet competitions, as well as being one of only two American premier male dancers working in Russia at the State Primorsky Opera and Ballet Theater.
Watching Don Quixote was quite the surreal experience. It was moving. It felt as though one was being elevated in a cloud where gods and angels dance, instead of singing. It was an opus of movements, and each dancer on stage was either a frozen or moving art form. Each was present in the moment; their extensions and flexions became the embodiment of those in the Spanish Golden Age. They brought out an air of overt nobility, and aristocracy mixed in with the Spanish flavor of joy for life.
Phillips was a real professional, perfection personified. His execution was flawless, and his expressions bold and dignified. Pimentel, as Phillips’ partner, danced with the same level of passion and technical precision that matched her Basilio’s – she was in every bit an equal to the lauded Phillips.
A true standout and perhaps one of the most exciting dance sequences was that of the toreador, Espada and Mercedes. Ian Ocampo, who played Espada had the exceptional grace, stance and self-assurance of a toreador. Joni Galeste as Mercedes was regal yet earthy, vivacious and oozing with so much passion it floods the stage. She was a ballerina disguised as a graceful flamenco dancer. Perhaps it was even the other way around. Such was the magnificence of her performance – it was the perfect child of ballet and flamenco.
The set and lighting contributed to the staging of this classic story. The second act’s set was perhaps the most noteworthy, as it perfectly blended the romance and mystery of a gypsy camp. Their moon was a wistful lover illuminating the dancers on stage.
The ballet is an exciting display of poetry in motion – a staging one should never miss. It is for the connoisseur of fine art forms; it is for the young professional looking at being moved; it is for everyone who wishes to witness beauty in movements.
Don’t miss Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Don Quixote still showing on Sunday, July 5, 2015 at 2pm and 7pm at CCP Main Theater.