Love and idealism are universal themes that transcend language, culture and time.
One hundred and fifty years after its astonishing Moscow opening, Ballet Midwest will present the Topeka premiere of “Don Quixote,” a virtuoso ballet, at Topeka Performing Arts Center on August 29 + 30. Artistic Director Lacee Sandgren chose the ballet for both its endearing love story and for the demanding dance technique and style.
“Don Quixote has a Spanish flair throughout that is invigorating and unique. Ballet Midwest has always been known for being a theatrical ballet company that has an intense focus on classical technique,” said Sandgren. “The current company dancers of Ballet Midwest are a perfect fit to take on the challenge of this ballet. They are dedicated, driven and passionate!” The production will also include special effects including a large, moving windmill.
The ballet includes three acts, based on episodes from the epic novel “Don Quixote de la Mancha” written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. The plot centers on a love story between Kitri and Basilio, whose marriage is opposed by Kitri’s father. Some helpful Gypsies conspire to help the two lovers, while Don Quixote and his hilarious sidekick Sancho Panza have adventures of their own, with dryads, their beautiful queen and Cupid. In the end, Don Quixote continues his quest with honor and courage to find his ideal, his Dulcinea.
Don Quixote (translated into English, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de La Mancha”) is considered by literary historians to be one of the most important books of all time, and it is often cited as the first modern novel. It has inspired generations of writers, thinkers, artists, musical compositions, films, theatre productions and more. In the world of classical ballet repertory, Don Quixote poses some of the most challenging roles. It’s argued that the first ballet production of Don Quixote dates back to 1740, paving the way for dance as an independent, dramatic expressive art form. But it is Marius Petipa’s version of “Don Quixote” with music composed by Ludwig Minkus that serves as the basis for productions today and of Ballet Midwest this spring.
Designed to entertain with a heartfelt story and technical dance prowess, Sandgren hopes that audiences will leave Don Quixote “with a new respect and admiration for the performing arts that we hope will inspire them to be a lifelong lover of the arts and a regular audience member for our ballets.”