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Meet Kitri and Basilio from Ballet Manila's 'Don Quixote' |

Arts and Culture

Meet Kitri and Basilio from Ballet Manila's 'Don Quixote'

Dolly Dy-Zulueta -
Meet Kitri and Basilio from Ballet Manila's 'Don Quixote'
San Francisco Ballet's Esteban Hernandez and Pia Dames will play Basilio and Kitri, respectively, in Ballet Manila's upcoming production of "Don Quixote."
Ballet Manila

MANILA, Philippines — Ballet Manila, the ballet company founded by Filipina prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, opens its 25th performance season with the staging of "Don Quixote" at Aliw Theater in Pasay City on May 27 at 8 p.m. and May 28 at 5 p.m.

“I think dancing ‘Don Quixote’ as our first full length classical ballet for the year is very appropriate because now is the time to pull out all the stops. It’s good to make the dancers and audience just enjoy themselves back onstage and in the theater,” said Macuja-Elizalde, Ballet Manila’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer.

A true classic dotted with light humor, "Don Quixote" requires exceptional dancing skills from its performers, and so San Francisco Ballet’s principal danseur, Esteban Hernandez, will fly in to Manila to play the male lead role Basilio, with Ballet Manila’s principal dancer Pia Dames essaying the role of the female lead character Kitri.

Hernandez has previously performed in "Don Quixote" as a Gitano leader, but this is the first time he is portraying a major character, Basilio, who, he said, is someone people can easily relate to. “Basilio is a well-liked, fun, almost carefree guy who just wants to make a living and enjoy his time with the people he loves; in this case, Kitri.” 

Since Dames is a Ballet Manila principal dancer, Macuja-Elizalde has stepped in to help her prepare for her role. No one would be in a better position to train Dames in the role of Kitri than Macuja-Elizalde who, for the longest time, has considered Kitri her signature role. The artistic director has portrayed the role of Kitri in "Don Quixote" many times in the past that she has mastered the character’s nuances and moves, despite it being a difficult role that requires exceptional dancing skills to be able to give what the original choreography demands.

"Don Quixote," a ballet in three acts, is based on the novel of the same title written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It is a romantic comedy marked by spirited dancing put together by Russia’s most prolific choreographer Marius Petipa.  

Macuja-Elizalde is ensuring that Dames is in tiptop shape for the flashy technical dancing form the ballet requires. “Stamina, strength and a solid technique are must-haves for dancing 'Don Quixote.' Classes and rehearsals are essential so we just keep practicing every day,” the artistic director shared. 


To prepare for her role, Dames is doing ballet sports science workouts to avoid injuries. She explained: “When I did my first full length 'Don Quixote,' I wasn’t fully prepared so I had to fight until the end with an injured ankle and stress fracture. My main goal now is for my body to be healthy and pain-free throughout the whole show.”

“I know how good Esteban is so I am more than excited to share the stage with him. It’s not every day that you get to partner with someone from San Francisco Ballet, so to have been given the opportunity to dance with him is definitely a highlight of my dancing career,” she added.

Sharing her sentiments, Hernandez, who always enjoys dancing with different partners, noted, “It feels really special to come to the Philippines and dance with a Filipina principal dancer. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Pia and to develop our partnership.”

As the Filipino audience witness these two principal dancers bring the main characters of "Don Quixote" to life, Hernandez hopes that they will leave the theater feeling inspired, excited and even moved. “As an artist, I put part of who I am into my work so I hope that it’ll also be a great way for us to get to know each other,” Hernandez said.

Macuja-Elizalde, who feels a special affinity to the ballet and Kitri, said she could not be more excited for the return of "Don Quixote" by Ballet Manila. “I am looking forward to sitting back and enjoying a high quality performance after all the months of work. I am looking forward to watching my company and school revisit a classical ballet that has been such an important and major part of my ballerina life, and I am looking forward to developing more young people to watch and appreciate ballet,” she said.

RELATED: ‘Parang panaginip’: Filipino ballet dancers back onstage, invite audiences to return to live theater

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