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NSW Youth Ballet: Don Quixote - Review by Faith Jessel

What a privilege it was to attend such a magically entertaining performance of the much loved and romantic comedy of Don Quixote, performed by the marvelously talented and committed students of NSW Youth Ballet Company. 

Anyone who attended the charming, inaugural 2023 production of Coppelia knew they were in for a treat. What makes this feat extraordinary, is the young, mostly school aged students, auditioning from across NSW, only have 2 short weeks of rehearsals to reach performance standard. And they rose to the occasion with aplomb, dancing with exuberance, precision and an abundance of Spanish flair. Bravo! 

A great dance company and production is only as good as its teachers and leaders. Directors, Susan and Paul Anderssen work from a rock solid credo of training the whole person in mind and heart - and not just the body, and are a breath of fresh air in a dance world which is sometimes still sadly lacking in its approach to the overall health and wellbeing of each student. Each year, the Anderssens and their team of dedicated teachers and volunteers are committed to every young person attending their summer intensive workshops leaving the rehearsal and stage with only a positive experience and personal success, while providing the rare opportunity of performing as a company  in a full-length classical ballet. Each student is cast, choreographed and featured according to their strengths and capacity. This resulted in a spirited, exhilarating performance and a celebration of everything glorious about ballet and its future! 

While this unique company is driven by team effort, fostering friendships and mutual support, it would be remiss of me not to mention the standout solo performances in a show already full to bursting with talent. 

Freya Wild starred brilliantly as the feisty and playful Kitri, dancing with impressive technique for such a challenging role and a maturity beyond her years. Her effortless extension, amplitude, intricate pointework and fluttering fan made a captivating performance. She channeled the essence of this iconic character handsomely and her pas de deux with guest artist Laim White were an enthralling highlight. The Act III solo variations were outstanding, performed with grace and flair, drawing gasps of appreciation from the audience. Wild is a dancer who is going to exciting places in the dance world. 

Abigail-Ruth Murphy and Cara Ryan as Gamache and Sancho Suzannah Brydon as the titular Don Quixote along with Elliot Bourke as Lorenzo, were perfectly cast, their buffoonery and comedic chops evident as they confidently clowned around the stage with perfect timing, bringing much laughter to the story and to the delight of many children and adults alike. 

Phoebe Meers and Tamara Rose both danced their exquisite Flower Waltz solos ethereally, with stunning poise, sublime lines and underlying power. Dana Kim was absolutely charming as Cupid. Her delicate movements, danced on demi pointe, were assured and impressive for so one so young. Brielle Garside as the Lead Gypsy displayed a hypnotic lyricism. Her innate musicality and flexibility made excellent use of the slower passages and phrases of music. 

Florence Hanks-Ruttyn, splendidly made the role of Mercedes her own.  She commanded the stage, while expertly showcasing her superbly precise but intuitive   technique. Exuding a stylish, distinctly Spanish lithe, her breathtaking grand jetes`and pirouettes during the Dance of the Matador brought much applause from an enchanted audience. The Carmencita Guitar Duo, expertly accompanied by Matilda Byrne and London Yeomans was striking and skilful.

The corps de ballet was excellent, dancing with sophisticated synchronisation and style, while underscoring the action during the various village square and forest settings with verve and refined stagecraft. This is not an easy task to achieve in such a short rehearsal framework and is a testament to diligence and training. Every student shone and is to be commended. Their families must be incredibly proud.

The immaculate and colorful costumes were an attraction in their own right. The pristine tutus and airy tunics featured during the forest scenes stood in crisp contrast to the characterful ruffled skirts and rosettes worn throughout the majority of the scenes.

While ballet is an incredibly exacting discipline and artform that demands years of vigorous training and unwavering commitment, NSW Youth Ballet Company is an exemplary example of how it can be taught successfully in a nurturing and inclusive environment, culminating in a marvelous night of ballet, fostering tomorrow's healthy and happy professional dancers while expanding the world of ballet lovers. 

If you are a parent or guardian reading this and you are curious to find out about what NSW Youth Ballet Company can offer, don’t hesitate in enquiring about their next workshop. The next exciting production is Sleeping Beauty, January, 2025. Your child will take away lifelong skills and wonderful memories. 

5 olés out of 5 

For further information about NSW Youth Ballet Company summer intensive workshops and Sleeping Beauty see: or regular classes at the school NSW International Ballet Academy see:  

or call 02 9144 6544 

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