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Review: Over when thin lady lifted; Don Quixote Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton.

That a couple of showy lifts can heat up an otherwise tepid ballet to the point of winning over the audience is unlikely, but that was what occurred in the closing moments of the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's performance of Don Quixote.

Two hours of largely predictable choreography and Spanish posturing in all variations (fans, castanets, capes and kiddies' plastic tambourines) did little to stir the virtually full house at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton.

The young company of graduates of The Ballet Academy of Vaganova did what it could with the material but the storyline is markedly weak, its only real connection with Cervante's novel being its title and a vague sub-plot concerning the Don's quest for love.

But it's not over until the fat lady sings, or in this instance the thin lady whips up 29 foeettes on tournate and is held triumphantly overhead one-handed by her partner.

And in those ten minutes of the final scene there is evidence why this disjointed early work of choreographer Marius Petipa remains in classical repertory today. The grand pas-de-deux between lovers Kitri and Basil has become a world famous showcase for dancers virtuosity and as such often performed as a gala piece.

As the young couple, Tatina Frolova and Stanislav Feco also raised their game at this point, finding a hitherto missing energy and passion both for each other and the suddenly demanding choreography.

Another oddity in this ballet of disparities was Don Quixote himself, who was woodenly portrayed by a lance-thin Anatoly Katoulsky as a knight permanently on downers.

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre performs Swan Lake until March 18 and The Nutcracker March 19-20.

Susan Turner
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Author:Turner, Susan
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 17, 1999
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