Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don Quixote at the Joffrey Ballet
by Stella Atrium


Attending ballet in Chicago is all about going to the Auditorium at Roosevelt University, often claimed in our reviews as America's most beautiful theater. Nestled among the buildings for Roosevelt, Columbia College, and DePaul University, the Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan masterpiece is a banquet of arches and ornamentation.lobby

The jeweled setting puts the patron in a mood for great art, and the Joffrey Ballet seldom disappoints. 

Yesterday we attended the matinee for Don Quixote where the aging Spanish knight doesn't dance.  He is shown on his deathbed three times, so jumping up to perform leaps and turns would seem awkward. 

The sidekick Sancho Panza (Derrick Agnoletti) completes some slapstick, and they have an oversized puppet horse that looks like a theatre school group project.  The elements of the story are pushed aside anyway, so the star dancers Carlos Quenedit, who plays a barber named Basilio, and Victoria Jaiani as the baker's daughter Kitri can shine. 

starsThis somber story is enlivened by scenes in the square where a street dancer, played by Joanna Wozinak, and toreador Matthew Adamczyk provide the few moments of Spanish flavor.  These are almost in competition with the romantic leads who barely acknowledge their presence. 


But, we attend ballet for pretty girls in tutus and high leaps from men wearing 18th century military uniforms.  supportThe several solo bits from Basilio and Kitri displayed a commitment to high discipline, taut physicality, and displays of prowess for practiced movements that brought frequent applause and hoops of delight from the audience. 

Often for ballet I sit down front at the Auditorium to absorb the details of set decoration and costume design.  This ballet, though, is just as enjoyable from the mezzanine. 

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