Don Quixoté

Adapting any story from one medium to another is always a challenge. This is particularly true when the original source is a book and the adaptation is a live performance. In encapsulating something that may take days or weeks to read, sacrifices must be made.

Thankfully, when Marius Petipa originally choreographed Don Quixoté he chose, above all, to emphasize the atmosphere of Miguel de Cervantes' novel and the spirit of the famous knight errant at the expense of his literal quest. As a result, his ballet, set to the music of Ludwig Minkus, and the current production by the Colorado Ballet, is a jam-packed celebration of dance and the talent and depth of the company itself.

Photo of Igor Vassin (Basilio), Maria Mosina (Kitri) and Kevin Aydelotte (Don Quixote)
Igor Vassin (Basilio),
Maria Mosina (Kitri)
and Kevin Aydelotte (Don Quixote)
Photo by Terry Shapiro
Petipa, and later Alexander Gorsky, imported a Spanish style and adapted it to the traditional form, creating bright, exotic episodes that set up a classical romance. And although it is specific events in the noble but daft Quixoté's adventure that tie this story together and provide its soulful framework, it is the love affair of Kitri and Basilio that is the heart of the ballet.

Photo of Igor Vassin (Basilio) and Maria Mosina (Kitri)
Maria Mosina (Kitri) and
Igor Vassin (Basilio)
celebrate their betrothal
Photo by Terry Shapiro
On the evening of this particular performance, Maria Mosina and Igor Vassin, as the infatuated couple, once again dazzled us with their grace, technique, and stamina. We're treated to a snappy ethnic castanet dance and incredible grand fouettes en tournant (breathtaking, whipping spins on pointe) by Mosina, and from the pair, a number of poignant romantic pas de deux, graceful, soaring leaps, and impressive, sustaining lifts. Make no mistake, for the two principals, Don Quixote ranks one of the most physically demanding ballets in the repertoire.

Photo of Gregory K. Gonzales and Janelle Cooke (Lead Gypsies)
Gregory K. Gonzales and
Janelle Cooke (Lead Gypsies)
Photo by Terry Shapiro
But the beauty of this piece is that beyond the main dramatic roles there are a number of other wonderful opportunities. Staci Kinkead, is captivating as Mercedes, a street dancer, whether parrying with the toreadors or sashaying in her bottle dance. She is followed in the same pageant sequence by Hua Zhuang, as Espada, the lead toreador, who culminates his powerful set with a series of flashy moves with his cape that would finish off any bull.

The sets, borrowed from the Louisville Ballet, are grand, and the small live orchestra, expertly led by Akira Endo, does wonders with Minkus' pleasing, melodic score. The Colorado Ballet's spirited production of Don Quixoté runs through Sunday, October 12th. 303-893-4100.

Bob Bows


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