Ballet Idaho’s Adrienne Kerr dazzled in “Don Quixote” Friday

Ballet Idaho presented a diverse program Feb. 8 at the Morrison Center — “Carmen,” a condensed adaptation of the tragic opera choreographed by ballet master Alex Ossadnik, and “Don Quixote,” an effervescent re-staging of the classical ballet by artistic director Peter Anastos.

You have another chance to see it on Feb. 9.

“Don Q,” as the ballet is often referred to, has nothing to do with Cervantes’ book or windmills. It’s a rollicking comedy about young lovers Kitri and Basilio (Kerr and Andrew Taft) who fool her father into allowing them to marry.

Anastos pulled out his strong penchant for comedy in this one, keeping the audience laughing throughout. He created fun character bits for Frank Affrunti as Kitri’s father and John Frazier as the foppish suitor Don Camacho. (Frazier was equally funny as one of the stepsisters in Anastos’ “Cinderella.”)

But the stars of the night were Kerr and Taft. Both rose to the demands of these iconic ballet roles. Anastos staged the ballet based on Marius Petipa’s original choreography that has been performed for more than a century.

Kerr showed the strength of her technique in every jete and pirouette, and her personality and flair with each flick of her fan. She executed her difficult solo variations filled with fouette turns and highly stylized choreography to near perfection.

Taft was equally dynamic, pulling off multiple turns in second, athletic leaps and tours to the knees. And he showed his natural ability as a comic performer.

Though they struggled a bit with partnering at, first they pulled it together, executing some difficult lifts including an overhead press.

The ballet also offered nice moments for Angela Napier Gibson, Jessica Sulikowski and Monique Betty as Kitri’s friends, and Graham Gobeille as the toreador Espada.

Working with an arrangement by Rodion Shchedrin of Bizet’s opera score, Ossadnik created a theatrically intriguing “Carmen.” He made great use of an open stage — exposing a replica of a Renaissance painting left on the stage’s bare brick wall by a production of “Light in the Piazza” in 2006 — and John Torres’ lighting to help set the mood.

The piece opened with the female company as the cigarette factory workers dragging and dancing on chairs served as part of the set throughout. Ossadnik used the chairs to provided to create levels and change the space, which worked nicely.

The piece was filled with memorable imagery, such as the women using their chairs and bodies to make a line across the front of the stage, and the use of a rope when Don Jose (Frazier) arrests Carmen. She’s tethered to him and they literally become entangled as they become entangled with each other.

Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti danced the title role and although she makes a lovely “Sleeping Beauty” her natural innocent quality didn’t work for the story about a fierce woman, who murders her rival (Gibson) and uses men to get what she wants.

Gibson likewise was a little too soft in the role of Fate. Frazier made a good Don Jose — transforming his stalwart character into a man consumed with passion, and Nathan Powell made a strong Escamillio — the toreador who falls into Carmen’s snare

Go see it:

8 p.m. Feb. 9, Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. $37, $42 and $57.
Select-a-Seat and the Morrison Center box office. ­BalletIdaho.org.

 

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