My review of SF Ballet’s “Don Quixote” in today’s Chronicle:

“Committed San Francisco Ballet fans will want to know this first: Lorena Feijoo and Joan Boada aren’t performing in the current run of “Don Quixote,” which closes the 2007 season this week. Boada, our happiest Basilio, is out injured, and Feijoo, the company’s iconic Kitri, has understandably opted not to learn the role with a different partner.

But discoveries are made through just such casting deprivations.

Saturday, in their absence, two things were clear: The Ballet’s “Don Quixote,” though far from perfect, is a lively and lighthearted spectacle, satisfying in its own right. And Vanessa Zahorian has the role of her career in it. She was dazzling as Kitri, and not just because she possesses the perfect technical arsenal: freeze-frame balances, pirouettes so joyful and secure that she can’t help tossing doubles and even triples into the famous Act III fouett?s.

Often polished but distant in other ballets, she was full-blooded here, sashaying through every step with sensuality in her shoulders and a vivacious energy in her smile. “Don Quixote’s” Kitri, when not performing great physical feats, must be a wily teenager, walking in that loose-limbed adolescent way. Zahorian made the dance steps the natural expression of Kitri’s nondancing confidence and mischievousness.”

Click here for the full review.

Usually my reviews aren’t trimmed much, but this one got cut a lot. Here’s what I originally wrote:

“Committed San Francisco Ballet fans will want to know this first: Lorena Feijoo and Joan Boada aren?t performing in the current run of ?Don Quixote,? which closes the 2007 season this week. Boada, our happiest Basilio, is out injured, and Feijoo, the company?s iconic Kitri, has understandably opted not to learn the role with a different partner.

But through such casting deprivations discoveries are made. Feijoo and Boada, both born and trained in Cuba, were the real story when SF Ballet unveiled its first ?Don Q? in 2003. They were made to dance this ballet, and dance it together, and their American debuts in it provided high drama: just before the premiere, the company announced it would not renew the oft-injured Boada?s contract; he lit up the stage and the decision was promptly reversed. Feijoo and Boada?s performances that night were so charged that they have seemed to own the ballet here ever since, continuing to constitute its local raison d?etre even as other fine dancers blossomed during the ballet?s return in 2004. But Saturday, in their absence, two things were clear: SF Ballet?s ?Don Q,? though far from perfect, is a lively and light-hearted spectacle, satisfying in its own right. And Vanessa Zahorian has the role of her career in it.

She was dazzling as Kitri, and not just because she possesses the perfect technical arsenal: freeze-frame balances, pirouettes so joyful and secure that she can?t help tossing doubles and even triples into the famous Act III fouett?s. Often polished but distant in other ballets, she was full blooded here, sashaying through every step with sensuality in her shoulders and a vivacious energy in her smile. The key in a story ballet is consistency: in the same way that ?Sleeping Beauty?s? Aurora must be a princess, walking pristinely on half-toe between every dance passage, ?Don Q?s? Kitri must be a wily teenager, walking in that loose-limbed blas? way of teenagers when not performing great physical feats. Zahorian made the dance steps the natural expression of Kitri?s non-dancing confidence and mischievousness. And that made ?Don Q? not just a collection of ballet tricks, but real theater.”

2 Comments

  • r. whitmer Posted April 30, 2007 9:23 am

    does lorena’s decision in any way affect her status for next year?

  • lauren Posted May 5, 2007 1:00 pm

    you nailed your description of vanessa, and it all makes perfect sense. i remember when she’d throw in extra pirouettes-sometimes so many she’d then be off her music-when she first started with the company. technically dazzling but sometimes lacking in depth. she makes sense as kitri, she can be an amazing dancer, i’m glad she’s found a role which she can perform wholeheartedly and full-bodied.

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