Carolina Ballet is again presenting its story ballet, “Don Quixote,” three October weekends, this one included, in Raleigh’s Fletcher Opera Theater, a classic ballet reworked by artistic director Robert Weiss. The rendering – from dancing to stage sets to lighting – is sumptuous, but the ballet suffers at times from pacing.
Overall, the dancing mostly is sparkling and the dancers seem to be enjoying themselves. Stealing the show is Weiss’s concentration on the pas de deux. It doesn’t matter which duet, and there are several. His dancers soar with wonderful pique turns, high leaps, well-controlled lifts, good pirouettes and waltzing moments. At times, the men might gauge better their ascending heights against their landings, aiming for more softness. Overall, the corps even, except for minor moments, offers an evening of spectacle and romance, operatic in its effect.
One highlight comes in the dream scene at the end of Act I, Yevgeny Shlapko as Don Quixote and Margaret Severin-Hansen as Dulcinea. The two begin dancing under twin spotlights on a bare stage as more and more female dancers join them. The gossamer moment shimmers with wistfulness.
In fact, all principal dancers offer sailing moments. This consistency of effort and execution sustains the ballet. Not only providing comic relief but also hearty dancing is Nikolai Smirnov as Sancho Panza.
Weiss has given his dancers well-known ballet moves, but his arm movements are so arresting as to increase the impact. Enhancing the dancing are his costumes, including swirling petticoats. Lighting and stage sets are well integrated and highly effective. Amusing are the horses.
At issue is how Weiss’s ballet unfolds so slowly. The priest as narrator recounts Don Quixote’s adventures from his pulpit while Quixote and Sancho often stand and pantomime with hand gestures. This structure allows too many still moments, lessening not only the narrative arc but also the dramatic tension. A few quick small jumps or turns – any kind of minor leg work – might be helpful during such times.
So many adventures are included too, it’s easy to lose your place. A much more detailed program might be helpful. Still, Weiss’s ballet, if slow, can be operatic in effect.
What: “Don Quixote” presented by the Carolina Ballet
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 15, 22 and 29 and 2 p.m. Oct. 16, 22-23 and 29
Where: Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh.
Cost: Tickets start at $45 plus fees available able 919-719-0900 or 800-982-2787.
More info: www.carolinaballet.com