I fell in love with ballet when I watched Ballet Manila’s performance of Cinderella last year. The grace of the ballerinas and the danseurs were hypnotizing, and I marveled at how they leapt into the air like water being thrown across the sky. The chemistry between Cinderella and the prince were electrifying, and I was instantly hooked. Now, Ballet Manila is returning for the Spanish classic Don Quixote!
Don Quixote is one of the most challenging ballet pieces ever created, filled with quick and strong movements, almost impossibly-high vertical takeoffs, one arm lifts, quick fouettes, quadruple pirouettes, and the Plisetskaya head-kick, which has become one of the lead characters’ signature moves.
Lovers of classical literature will know that the ballet is based on the 1605 and 1615 Miguel de Cervantes novel Don Quixote, which follows the adventures of nobleman Alonso Quixano, who slowly loses his mind as he obsesses over bringing social justice. The ballet premiered in 1869, with choreography by Marius Petipa and music by Ludwig Minkus, at the Ballet of the Imperial Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia. The ballet focuses on the adventure of one Don Quixote, who is searching for Lady Dulcinea, a lover that he only imagines in his head. It also features the love story between Kitri and Basilio, a couple Don Quixote encounters in his travels.
Since its premiered, it has wowed audiences in Russia and across the world with its graceful acrobatic choreography, lively music, the most opulent costumes and sets, and even elements of comedy.
To give you a picture of how technical Don Quixote is, Kitri is known to perform 32 fouettes in a row. Fouettes are swift, whipping movements of the raised leg accompanying a pirouette, or the act of spinning on one foot.
Ballet Manila’s decision to mount Don Quixote makes sense, as CEO and artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde shot to international fame when she performed the spellbinding role of Kitri at the Kirov Ballet in Russia in 1986, where she served as principal dancer. She was trained by Gabriela Komleva, one of the most iconic dancers in Russia. To date, Kitri is Macuja-Elizalde’s most performed role, having performed her 56th and last Kitri in 2012 for Ballet Manila.
Macuja-Elizalde will be passing on the crown to a new generation of ballerinas. This run will feature principals Katherine Barkman and Dawna Reign Mangahas, and soloist Pia Dames. Ballet Manila flew in Kremlin Ballet Theater star and principal danseur, Mikhail Martynyuk, to play Basilio.
Ballet Manila’s Don Quixote will be staged on February 24 and 25 at 8PM, and on February 26 at 3PM at the Aliw Theater. For tickets, visit www.balletmanila.com.ph or follow Ballet Manila on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Tickets are also available through all Ticketworld outlets. Please call 8919999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.