The hero in José Montalvo’s fun and frivolous Don Quichotte du Trocadéro doesn’t so much tilt at windmills, as shake his naked belly at them.
Montalvo’s ensemble piece takes loose themes from Cervantes’ source and blends them into a comic dance burlesque, where Patric Thibaud’s Don Quichotte wanders through a dreamlike world modelled on the Parisian Metro and populated by dancers of practically every genre on earth.
With the array of styles on display here — tap, flamenco, ballet, street and more — the piece feels at times like a variety or circus: and both benefits and suffers as a result. Choreography and performances from the multinational ensemble are excellent, and the breadth of genres ensures things have little chance of getting dull. But with its sketch-like feel, Don Quichotte du Trocadéro also loses a little in the way of cohesion, as we watch Thibaud bumble from one scenario to the next.
Much of the humour comes from Thibaud’s intentionally inept attempts to emulate the dancers he meets — though his own mime-based movements are just as fluid and expressive. Frequent use of video projection also provides moments of surreal comedy, as we see Don Quichotte transform into a monstrous windmill, or trot across a Metro platform on the back of a donkey.
With no grand intent other than to entertain, Don Quichotte du Trocadéro succeeds, by offering up an enjoyable and accomplished spread of modern dance styles infused with uniquely European humour. However, with a little more substance & cohesion to balance the frivolity, Montalvo’s circus might just have transformed into the greatest show on earth.