I wondered about the casting of Sarah Lane as Kitri in American Ballet Theatre’s Don Quixote. She is not the tech whiz dancer that is customary for a successful Kitri, with all of the difficult tricks in the role. However, Sarah won me over Saturday afternoon with a great Kitri debut that exceeded my expectations. Her jumps were higher than I expected, particularly in the Act II dream scene with high jetés. I never thought of Sarah as a great turner, but she was spot on, with very smooth pirouettes. Most surprising were her fouettés with double pirouettes with one hand on her hip with her fan held overhead sprinkled in with single turns. She finished with an impressive, controlled double pirouette to the music. Her Kirti wasn’t perfect as one supported turn with Herman Cornejo in Act I was awkward and off-kilter and some her balances in the Grand Pas de Deux were abrupt. Moreover, Sarah isn’t the most expressive dancer, sometimes lacking a certain cocky swagger.
Herman as Basilio was the Herman that we know and love. At age 37, he still has it with great turns and leaps. He is still able to generate 6-7 smooth pirouettes with ease and his leaps are high, although not as proficient at his peak 10 years ago. His innovation Saturday was his turns, with most done with one hand on his hip. As always, Herman provided sturdy support for his Kitri especially on the one-handed lifts in Act I. It is clear that Herman has done this before; his confidence showed in the pas de deux in which he flirted with Kitri on several occasions between difficult segments, adding to the comedic drama.
Stella Abrera and Thomas Forster were a good match as Mercedes and Espada, respectively. Thomas was arrogant as the famous matador, covering much ground with his large frame. Skylar Brandt drew cheers from the crowd with a her turns, particularly a triple pirouette in second position. Betsy McBride has her counterpart as a Flower Girl and was also impressive. Cassandra Trenary was the Queen of the Dryads, with the best Italian fouettés I’ve seen in a while, done with great phrasing. Rachel Richardson danced Amour with great spunk while Luis Ribagorda (Sarah’s husband) was ridiculous as the buffoon Gamache, the rich nobleman.