Royal Ballet Flanders opens season with Don Quixote


Royal Ballet Flanders is opening its new season with a Spanish-flavoured production that combines continual action with broad humour

Family ballet

Royal Ballet Flanders begins 2015 with Don Quixote, a Spanish flavoured confection billed as a classic ballet for the whole family. Famously accessible thanks to its clearly defined characters, continual action and broad humour, Don Quixote also boasts acrobatic set pieces and a "white ballet", whose hardly Hispanic tutus and pointe work are smuggled in through a dream sequence.

The ballet covers only part of Cervantes’ monster novel, replacing epic sweep with a more focused story of frustrated love. Kitri, the beautiful daughter of an inn-keeper, and Basilio the barber are devoted to one another, but their passion is thwarted when Kitri’s father promises her to a rich nobleman. Everything seems lost, until Don Quixote turns up with his deluded chivalry and proceeds to upset everyone’s plans.

Don Quixote was created in 1869 for Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, with music by Ludwig Minkus. It was choreographed by Marius Petipa, a Frenchman with a talent for spectacle who helped create classics such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. He also knew a thing or two about Spanish dance and was able to blend the characteristic movements of the seguidilla, fandango, jota and bolero with classical ballet steps. More importantly, he used them to create character dances that advance the story rather than interludes that stop it dead.

The ballet handed down to us also owes a lot to Aleksandr Gorsky, whose staging for the Bolshoi in 1900 added new music and dances, including Kitri’s celebrated solo dance with a fan.

This production comes from Russian choreographer Alexei Fadeechev, who first staged Don Quixote while he was artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet between 1998 and 2000. The Flanders Symphony Orchestra will be under the baton of musical director Benjamin Pope.

Photo by Veerle Frissen

Royal Ballet of Flanders

The Royal Ballet of Flanders is the only classical ballet company in Belgium. Based in Antwerp, it has long been considered one of the top dance companies in Europe.
Merge - The ballet company is set to merge with the Flemish Opera by 2014.
Budget cuts - The Australian-born artistic director Kathryn Bennetts is credited with reinvigorating the company after it languished in the early 2000s but left in 2012 due to budget constraints.
Award - The ballet company won the Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Company at the 2013 National Dance Awards in London.

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