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Don Quixote

Domenico Luciano as Don Quixote and Artists of the Colorado Ballet
Domenico Luciano as Don Quixote and Artists of the Colorado Ballet
Photo: Mike Watson
 
When the legendary Bolshoi choreographer Marius Petipa adapted Miguel de Cervantes' famous story for ballet (set to Ludwig Minkus' score), he sorted through the many adventures in the epic and wisely chose to focus on the love story of Kitri and Basilio. The girl's father doesn't want them to marry; instead, he's set on having her marry a wealthy older man; in the the end, an interloper helps the lovers marry. It's a tried and true plot line straight from commedia dell'arte, and in this case enables our beloved knight-errant, Don Quixote, to be the hero, by helping the lovers get the girl's father's blessing.

Francisco Estevezas Basilio and Asuka Sasaki as Kitri
Francisco Estevezas Basilio
and Asuka Sasaki as Kitri
Photo: Mike Watson
 
The love story supports a wonderful series of classical and folk dances wrapped in romantic interludes, jealous fits, and Quixote's grand imaginings, chivalrous excesses, and gallant quest. On Saturday evening, opening weekend, Dana Benton and Yosvani Ramos shared their great chemistry and artistry as the lovers, captivating us with the first blossoms of love in the opening scene—Benton as the coquettish Kitri and Ramos as the serenading guitarist—then carrying us along on their journey, as they attempt to elope.

Their work, together and solo, offers a little of everything, from Benton's feverish and fetching castanet-inspired rapture and an incredible splash of grand fouettes en tournant (breathtaking, whipping spins on pointe) to Ramos' athletic leaps and impressive lifts, as well as a number of poignant pas de deux. Make no mistake, for the two principals, Don Quixote ranks one of the more physically demanding ballets in the repertoire.

Nicolas Pelletier as Espada and Morgan Buchanan as Mercedes
Nicolas Pelletier as Espada
and Morgan Buchanan as Mercedes
Photo: Mike Watson
 
A parallel series of sensual pairings between Mercedes (Fernanda Oliveira), a seductive street dancer, and Espada (Joshua Allenback), a dashing toreador, light up the stage with twirling skirts and flashy cape work. Petipa, and later Alexander Gorsky, imported a Spanish style and adapted it to the traditional form, creating bright, exotic episodes for the ensemble.

Don Quixote (Domenico Luciano) tilts with windmills while dreaming of his muse and siren, Dulcinea (Ever Larson), as Sancho Panza (Evan Flood), despite himself, keeps the old knight-errant out of harm's way—with lots of fun moments in Luciano's pantomime and Flood's shtick. Gregory Gonzales' foppish Gamache is a comedic gem. And, of course, there are exotic gypsies to heighten the magical atmosphere.

Minkus' score evokes rich cultural melodies and beautifully supports the non-stop series of dances, all of which sparkle under the baton of Adam Flatt and the 54-piece orchestra.

The Colorado Ballet's presentation of Don Quixote runs through October 13th at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. 303-837-8888 or coloradoballet.org/don-quixote

Bob Bows



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