Sometimes we go to the ballet with our husbands

On Thursday night, May 19, 2011, my husband and I went to see American Ballet Theatre’s production of Don Quixote. What I love about this particular production, which was introduced into the repertoire during the Baryshnikov years and was tinkered with again by Kevin McKenzie in 1995, is its joy. The female lead (Kitri, a peasant girl) does astonishing leaps and turns, as does the male lead (Basilio, a barber). A matador who finds his way into the story dances with his cape, and, when this role is well done, your jaw drops. Then there’s that stunning choreography for the bare-chested gypsy. It’s bravo, brava, bravi set pieces, one after another with very little comprehensible plot or character development. Yes, Don Quixote and his faithful Sancho Panza do appear as characters, but they are silly and add to the clowning and generally festive atmosphere. On Thursday Rolando Sarabia, sometimes called the Cuban Nijinksy, danced the role of Basilio. I had never seen him before, and his fluidity and melting yet extraordinarily fast turns impressed me and the dozens of others who, at intermission, gossiped that ABT will hire him to replace Jose Manuel Carreno, who is retiring soon. That, in fact, is Carreno in the picture above, along with Paloma Herrera. (Here’s a link to The New York Times review of Carreno’s performance two nights previously. “American Ballet Theater’s ‘Don Quixote’ at Met Opera” ) And here’s a picture of the noble and elegant Rolando Sarabia, to the right. I remember opening night of the New York City season in 1978: The balletomanes were so critical, especially of all the finger snapping and fancy fan moves. I was sitting next to an old gentleman, a Frenchman whose name I should remember because he had danced with several major ballet companies. He was disgusted. “All this jumping about!” he exclaimed, not happily, in a thick accent. All that jumping about! So beautiful. I could make a joke about how my husband stayed awake. He loves ballet. But sometimes he does fall asleep. After all, it’s evening; he’s had a hard day at work; he’s in a darkened theater. Not Thursday. He did complain that his hands were sore from so much clapping.