‘Don Quixote’ is en pointe and en garde

This article is a review and includes subjective thoughts, opinions and critiques.  

Beautiful poses, immense talent and a flair for drama — Cardinal Ballet Company’s (CBC) production of “Don Quixote” on Saturday at Dinkelspiel Auditorium was riveting and intriguing, showcasing its dancers at their best.

The plot was simple: Don Quixote, played by Tai Groenveld ’23 M.A. ’24, dreams of chivalry and windmills, while Kitri played by Ellie Wong ’23 M.A. ’24 and Basilio played by Jared Klegar ’24, a Daily staffer, fall in love despite the disapproval of Kitri’s father Lorenzo, played by ballet lecturer Anton Pankevich, who curiously wore white sneakers instead of ballet shoes. At the same time, Lorenzo tries to set Kitri up with a wealthy nobleman, Gamache, played by Sam Prausnitz-Weinbaum ’27.

The main duo, Wong and Klegar, demonstrated incredible talent. The chemistry between the characters was palpable — when the characters first interacted, Kitri cheekily avoided Basilio’s advances, putting a fan to his face when he came too close. The music swelled as the two finally began dancing in tandem, smiling blissfully. 

The humor weaved into the performance elevated the show, transforming it into something that could be universally understood, regardless of knowledge of ballet or the story of Don Quixote. In a performance with no words, these minor moments of comedy clarified the plot.

A white man in a long white wig and voluminous orange outfit gestures cheekily.
Sam Prausnitz-Weinbaum gestures cheekily as Gamache. (Courtesy of William Meng)

No performer embraced the humor more than Prausnitz-Weinbaum as Gamache, the bumbling nobleman Kitri’s father hopes will marry her. When his white, Georgian-era wig repeatedly slipped off his head, he took advantage of the opportunity to fix it campily. His comic intuition was a grounding presence to the otherwise stricter mode of ballet dance.

Before intermission, the story returns to Don Quixote, who fights a windmill and loses. Presumably comatose from battle, a dream sequence commences. 

10 ballet dancers in pastel outfits arch one arm over their heads10 ballet dancers in pastel outfits arch one arm over their heads
Dancers perform a dream sequence, featuring Amisha Iyer (center) as Cupid. (Photo: CAYDEN GU/The Stanford Daily)

Ballerinas, wearing outfits of teals, blues, pinks and lilacs, frame the stage in perfectly still formation. Amisha Iyer ’23 M.A. ’24 delicately dances in the center as Cupid.

This dream act was exquisite. The colorful tutus created the image of a bouquet of flowers twirling around each other, with Iyer gracefully tiptoeing in the middle, fragile yet strong. It was the perfect ending to the first half of the show.

After intermission came my favorite scene, set in a tavern, which was curiously decorated with red Solo cups in a cheeky reference to college life. Kitri and Basilio danced together with both precision and passion. 

Klegar showed no sign of strain as he carried, threw and caught Wong, seemingly defying gravity. Wong’s face remained enchanted as she posed and jumped effortlessly. I wanted to keep on watching just to see what happened to their characters and how their romance manifested itself through dance.

'Don Quixote' is en pointe and en garde'Don Quixote' is en pointe and en garde
Jared Klegar as Basilio fakes his own death. (Courtesy of William Meng)

Basilio left the tavern and re-appeared with a cape and sword. He laid on the floor theatrically and stabbed himself in the chest, ostensibly because he could not win the approval of Kitri’s father. The crowd erupted in gasps and “oohs.”

Yet, once Kitri bends to kiss Basilio, he springs back alive with restored life force by her love. I was glad to see Basilio alive — I was really rooting for him and Kitri by now.

The crowd alternated between pure silence and uproarious applause throughout the show. One moment that the crowd loved was the “Cupid’s Trio” dance, which transitions from the tavern to the wedding act. Dancers Amanda Cheng ’27, Alice Finkelstein ’27 and Juliet Sostena ’27 demanded full attention as one dances in the foreground, one in the background and one in the center simultaneously, creating this beautiful depth of motions.

'Don Quixote' is en pointe and en garde'Don Quixote' is en pointe and en garde
A duet danced by leading couple Jared Klegar and Ellie Wong. (Courtesy of William Meng)

I highly anticipated the final dance between Kitri and Basilio. As Wong’s leg extended a perfect 180 degrees, Klegar turned her slowly, romantically. At the end of the scene, he lifted her above his head, walked with her to the front of the stage and dramatically lowered her as if she was flying. 

The show ended with a wedding, and the entire ensemble came out for a final number and a bow. 

“Don Quixote” was romantic and talent-filled, a real delight. 

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