Wednesday, February 22, 2012: Her Knight

Alina Nanu, Ondřej Vinklát

Alina Nanu as Kitri, Ondřej Vinklát as Basil, in dress rehearsal for Don Quixote

Don Quixote / Her Knight

It was Alina Nanu’s night.

The 21-year-old Moldavan ballerina danced her heart out, premiering Feb 16 as Kitri in the State Opera Ballet’s demanding production of Don Quixote.

And she won the audience’s heart at the same time, from her first exit (done with an extra, flirty little back kick that said I’m having so much fun!) to her heart-stopping, endless pirouettes scooping lightly around the perimeter of the whole set.

It was her night for the regal overhead pressages (the partner lift where the ballerina could change the light bulbs) to her gorgeous, show-stopping final act’s Grand Pas de Deux, one of the most demanding pieces in European classical ballet.

Alina Nanu, Ondřej Vinklát

Alina Nanu as Kitri, Ondřej Vinklát as Basil, in a classic pressage (lift)

The 5-1/2 -foot-tall, hundred pound Kitri showed enormous stamina and strength, and yet elegance, at the same time portraying all the tender emotions of her romantic role. Amazingly, she graduated from the Prague Dance Conservatory only in 2010 and joined the State Opera Ballet as a member of the company in the 2010/2011 season, becoming a soloist in the next, with roles in Swan Lake and Giselle; her first lead role came as Odetta/Odile in Swan Lake.

She has won honors in international ballet competitions in Brno and Romania, and toured internationally (Spain, Germany, USA).

Passing on the Fan
At the same time, it must have been a night of mixed emotions for choreographer Hana Vláčilová. An outstanding personality of Czech ballet, she danced as Kitri on the second night of the Don Quixote premiered in 1986; and she created the choreography for the current production, along with Jaroslav Slavický and Kateřina Slavická, according to the original by Petipa and Gorsky.

Mrs Vláčilová has been passing on her insights and knowledge as a teacher and ballet mistress for the State Opera since 2005.

A leading dancer for more than 25 years, she has won a whole mantel full of prestigious international dance awards. She was also a choreographer and stage director for the State Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and produced a version of Giselle; both are still in the company’s repertoire.

The next performance of the State Opera Ballet’s production of Don Quixote is scheduled March 4. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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