S. African ballet company offers Quixote with a Cuban accent

Johannesburg, Mar 7 (EFE).- Don Quixote has exchanged the plains of La Mancha for the South African savannah to right all wrongs, according to custom, although now he is ready to go up against evildoers with an unusual weapon: a ballet with a Cuban accent.

The organization responsible for the new version of the "Knight of the Sad Countenance" is South Africa's Mzansi Ballet, which will debut its "Don Quixote" in Johannesburg on Friday.

One of the classics of the Russian ballet of the 19th century based on two chapters in the iconic book by Miguel de Cervantes, the show now has been specially adapted to the characteristics of the world-renowned Cuban dance school.

Mzansi Ballet director Dirk Badenhorst thinks that the Cuban style matches perfectly with the South African way of dancing.

"Since we began working with the company in 2009, we've seen great advances," Prof. Ana Julia Bermudez de Castro of the Cuban National Ballet School told Efe.

The relationship between the Cuban ballet school and South Africa goes back to 2009, but this is the first time that dancers who graduated from the Havana institution will be dancing as members of the Mzansi company.

Badenhorst's multiracial ballet places Don Quixote in a world of handsome black noblemen who are courting blond, blue-eyed Hispanic maidens onstage.

The show, which is set in Barcelona and tells a story about the triumph of young love in the face of parental marriage arrangements, promises to be one of the great artistic attractions of the year in South Africa, where audiences are used to applauding Cuban dancers.

"The Cubans have their public in South Africa. It's unbelievable how they applaud us, how they ask us for autographs," said one of the dancers, Randol Figueredo.