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Don Quixote

This famous ballet has been around for over 280 years and is based on scenes from the

book, Don Quixote de la Mancha. However, the version as we know it today was created by

Marius Petipa, a French Choreographer, who is known as the father of ballet and his

production was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1869.


The story is set in Spain and is about Don Quixote, a noble old gentleman who decides to

become a Knight, makes a helmet out of a barber’s bowl and goes in search of adventures

with his horse Rocinante and his servant, Sancho. Amongst this there is a story of love

between the characters of Kitri and Basilio who perform a beautiful pas de deux in Act II.

Over the years this ballet has been modified and revived, one of those being by the

outstanding dancer and choreographer, Rudolph Nureyev. Having performed in this ballet on numerous occasions throughout his professional career, Rudolph revived it in 1970 with the Australian Ballet. But did you know he went on to film it in 1972 over four weeks in a

converted aeroplane hangar at Essendon Airport! With a mischievous spirit and gift for

comedy, he devised a new choreography, creating a cheerful and lively Don Quixote, with

lots of colourful scenes, using great movements to show the steps characteristic of Spain

and shortened the ballet from five acts to three.


This year the Australian Ballet have recently adapted the film version for the stage,

performing at the Melbourne Arts Centre in March and the Sydney Opera House in April.

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