Carlos Acosta’s recent production of Don Quixote for the Royal Ballet is full of energy, sparkle and exhilarating dancing. Even though it is from the classic Marius Petipa tradition, I didn’t know this ballet and wasn’t sure what to expect. How do you ‘balletise’ Cervantes’ 17th Century blockbuster? In some ways it is a bit like Le Corsaire with flamenco and gypsies instead of pirates: the thinnest of plots, but huge fun and an excuse for some great dancing.

In the live cinema relay on Tuesday 19th February, we were treated to the delightful partnership of rising stars Akane Takada and Alexander Campbell as lovers Kitri and Basilio. Their performances were tender, touching and technically thrilling: we are in for a real treat if they continue to develop their pairing. Christopher Saunders, Philip Mosley and Gary Avis had fun as Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and Kitri’s disapproving father, respectively, and there was fine support from the rest of the cast. For those of us currently in Susie Crow’s adult beginners’ class it was good to see the professionals execute their chaîné turns!

In the on-screen interviews, Kevin O’Hare revealed how he had proposed bringing in Acosta to create this new version when applying for the role of Director in 2011, and Conductor Martin Yates explained how he had lovingly re-orchestrated Minkus’s music. This included having actual guitars playing on stage in the Act 2 gypsy camp scene, very effective. Tim Hatley’s first venture into ballet design produced some nifty windmills and fabulous costumes.

The dancing just got better and better in Acts Two and Three and the two Principals’ final pas de deux moved me to tears.

These live screenings are a real treat: excellent value, with good behind-the-scenes information and a genuine attempt to give you a sense of being there (although the presentation does get a bit cheesy at times). It is also fun to join in via Twitter: people were watching from Inverness to Minehead and across the rest of Europe. Spanish followers especially seemed to be enjoying it.

Don Quixote is on until 4th April and well worth a trip to Covent Garden if you have the chance, although seats are selling out fast.

Susanna Reece

25th February 2019