A taste of Spain featuring some of ballet’s most astonishing and spell bounding virtuoso choreography: This is the Don Quixote Ballet Variation. Today, we’re focusing on the very famous and very famous ballet which features incredible music and athletic roles. Despite its complicated plot - which don’t worry, we’ll talk you through – is an exciting and beautifully composed ballet. We’re here to help you know your way around the plot, the scenes and the variations!
The Don Quixote Ballet is set in the vibrant and beautiful Barcelona, in the Catalonia region of Spain. Bursting with culture and an evident sense of burning amor, it truly is the most beautiful of settings for the ballet.
Don Quixote is infatuated with tales of medieval chivalry. He tells his servant, Sancho Panza that he has decided to become a knight and thus improvises a suit of armour.
Lorenzo owns an inn on the Barcelona coast. Act I opens with the dance of the Corps de Ballet, followed by Kitri’s solo when a poor man, Basilio enters. He seems appealing to Kitri and they dance a duet together. Kitri’s father, Lorenzo, appears and he is simply furious. A rich nobleman, Gamache appears, and Lorenzo wants Kitri to marry him as it would bring honour to the family.
A street dancer appears and performs on stage, whilst a young woman awaits for the arrival of a toredor. When the toredor appears, he dances with the other toredors. It is followed by a solo of the girl.
Don Quixote arrives at the inn on his horse clutching his spear and shield. The girls outside the inn see Sancho Panza and play with him, blindfolding him and pushing him. Then, it is the dance of Kitri’s friends. Kitri is now dressed in her classic, red skirt as she enters with Basilio. The pas de deux concludes Act I.
Heading to Act 2, Kitri and Basilio are fleeing from Gamache and Lorenzo when they come across a gypsy camp. The gypsies perform a dance for them. Don Quixote is also amongst the gypsies and the windmills. When the gypsies perform, Don Quixote sees it as a real-life threat and starts to attack the gypsies. He gets caught up in a windmill. After the gypsies leave, Kitri and Basilio help Don Quixote to get into a restful sleep.
He dreams that he is in the Dryads Kingdom, where he is greeted by the Queen, Cupid and Kitri who represents Dulcinea. They perform a variety of dances before the dream slowly fades away.
Kitri and Basilio wake up in time to flee, however, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are still there. The chase continues.
In Act 3, the final act, everybody is celebrating in the Tavern. With Basilio and Kitri’s friends all in presence, quick-witted Basilio fakes a stabbing to Lorenzo. It is here he asks Lorenzo with his ‘dying breath’ if he could have his daughter, Kitri’s, hand in marriage. With the thought that Basil iois soon to die, Lorenzo agrees. Basilio stops pretending his ‘fateful ending’ and is then happily reunited with Kitri, much to Lorenzo and Gamache’s dismay. At the scene of the glorious wedding, they celebrate with dances and the famous ballet concludes with the pas de deux of Kitri and Basilio.
Known for her incredible sissones and rather breath-taking cambré back and attitude position, Kitri Act I was made to be played by the girl who jumps. Kitri is the character that we’re all spellbound by, the bravura variation is simply an audience pleaser. it is one of the many few bravura variations for women, with all of its impressive turns and jumps and it is merely an incredibly impressive technique.
But, it’s only impressive if it’s done right.
The opening step of Kitri Act I is the pas de chat, the step of the cat. It is one of the most common leaps in ballet and included in many ballet solos. We all know how tricky it can be to execute a pas de chat, but that very first step sets the momentum and the tone for the rest of the forthcoming steps. It’s essential to get it right.
Kitri Act I follows into a battement and then into either a step over or a fouetté with clean precisions and a strong jeté in attitude or a grand pas de chat. Just by reading it, you can see how fast paced this combination is. The key? Precision and timing. Although quick, rushing through the steps will throw the entire performance off. It’s essential that we are seeing a full diamond in the height of the pas de chat, we need to see that turn out in the second leg in the battement. We need to see the turn out of the working leg in the battement. Ensure you are as flat forward facing to the audience as possible to give your body the longest line and don’t forget to keep your shoulders down and head slightly inclined back to keep the Spanish flair.
There is a lot to think about with Kitri. It takes precision and time.
Now that you understand the general plot and the interesting characters, it’s time for us to share with you our top tips to really bring your role in Don Quixote to life and how understanding the Don Quixote Ballet Variation can help you really embrace the part and steal centre spotlight.
The influence from Spain poses a problem to dancers from the West. The Spanish flair is something that must be properly replicated. Without knowing the way of the Spanish, it’s almost impossible to get that flair of the Spanish right. It’s all about presence, but in a different way.
One of the variation’s biggest setbacks for females dancing Don Quixote is that that lies with the Spanish port de bras. Moving your arms with a Spanish flair comes from the palms. It’s not uncommon to see young women attempt to portray the flair by placing their hands on their hips and pulling their elbows back. To get a closer representation, try placing your palm delicately on the top of your tutu, keep the wrists pressed down and ever so slightly push the elbows forward with your chest open. Allow your fingers to maintain that elegant and classic form. It’s vital to remember that each time your arms transition from the hips to second position, they must move through the first position.
Another variation of the Don Quixote is the power of a good head movement. Spanish dancers are renowned for their dominating and sultry purposeful head movements that allow their dance to come alive. Never under estimate the power of coordinating your head with your body. We can’t stress enough how much impact you’ll add to your dance by looking up on the développé à la seconde and looking lower during the passés while possibly fanning yourself. The attitude, diversity and fullness of your steps will truly come to life.
It’s important to manipulate the proper fan position. Initiate slower but fuller fan movements with the elbow but use the wrist to create quick, yet small, flutters. The fan is used to build the tension and the excitement throughout.
Fancy footwork is key in the variation’s final section. It can be tricky to maintain the taqueté across the stage. Keep your weight on the supporting leg to control your balance. It’s also worth engaging opposition in the legs and shoulders to achieve the typically Spanish characteristic style.
Kitri comes with a whole host of difficulties, danced correctly, she’s spell bounding and jawdropping. Done incorrectly and it can all go horribly wrong all too quickly. Whilst thinking about our tips for Kitri above, don’t forget that she’s also a proud, playful and rather humorous character. She shouldn’t be portrayed as too sultry. Especially during Act 3 in the wedding celebration, she should be incredibly happy.
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