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Richmond Ballet's "Don Quixote" Revels in Ruffles



If you attend the Richmond Ballet's upcoming production of "Don Quixote" seeking a ballet version of Miguel de Cervantes' 17th-century novel — a grand, rambling meditation on the human condition and the nature of reality — you may become as confused as the don himself. Think flirting fans, ruffled skirts, red-, black- and pink-frilled ladies, and handsome, jumping gentlemen. Although the familiar, fiercely bewildered character of Don Q and his sidekick Sancho Panza do figure into the ballet, the story leaps and frolics through a host of gypsies, lovers, bullfighters, chase scenes and dance divertissements until it bears only a cursory resemblance to the novel itself.

Literary license notwithstanding, the ballet is great fun; stuffed with bravura dancing roles for men and women, "Don Q" gives any ballet company the chance to show off. The Richmond Ballet production was staged for the company in 1985 by choreographer Nicolas Beriozoff, who worked in the tradition of 19th-century ballet icon Marius Petipa — the source of choreography for many of today's best-known ballets, such as "Swan Lake" and "Giselle."

Two guest artists — both from Teatro Col┬ón ballet in Buenos Aires, Argentina — join the Richmond Ballet company for this incarnation of "Don Q," accompanied by the Richmond Symphony performing the Ludwig Minkus score. Sylvina Perillo, whose dancing has been called "dazzling" by Dance Magazine, will perform the lead role of Kitri. Her lover Basilio will be danced by Alejandro Parente. Both roles promise the display of intense technical prowess and will be complemented by the work of more than 30 other dancers.

Two tales of love overlap in Don Quixote: the ultimately requited love of Basilio and Kitri, and the don's unrequited passion for his illusory Dulcinea. As Richmond Ballet's Artistic Director Stoner Winslett says, this ballet is "perfect for Valentine's Day." Indeed, combine the quick spin of pirouettes and the breathless swoop of lifts and jumps with brilliant music and lithe dancers in luscious costumes, and you have a perfect box of ballet confections — with a spicy Spanish flair. S

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