Ballet Stars

Standouts of 2019: Colorado Ballet's Francisco Estevez in "Don Quixote"

Principal dancer Francisco Estevez as Basilio in Colorado Ballet's Don Quixote. Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

When talking about a role like Basilio in Don Quixote, it's easy to throw around terms like "virtuosic" and "powerhouse." "Cancer survivor" is less common, but so is Francisco Estevez, the unflappable 30-year-old Colorado Ballet dancer who took on the role this fall. Not only has Estevez overcome testicular cancer and continues to receive treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia, but he is the company's newest (and youngest) principal.


Francisco Estevez, in blue tights and a brown vest, holds a silver cup over his head along with the rest of the cast of Colorado Ballet's Don Quixote.

Estevez and artists of Colorado Ballet raise a glass in Don Quixote.

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

To an audience, however, health hurdles are beside the point; as a dancer, Estevez has the technical chops and the go-for-broke mentality to leave anyone impressed. Case in point? Holding the notoriously tricky one-armed lift in Act I for an extended period of time—and even getting in an arabesque of his own with partner Asuka Sasaki still overhead.

Francisco Estevez and his partner Asuka Sasaki wear white, gold and red Spanish-style costumes. Estevez stands in 6th position on demit pointe while Sasaki balances in attitude derriere.

Esetvez and Asuka Sasaki perform Don Quixote's grand pas de deux.

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

But more impressive was the way he truly never stopped dancing in the calmer, less flashy passages. It's all too easy for a dancer who plays a "subtle" Basilio to be overpowered by their Kitri, but for Estevez, a simple gesture seemed as important as a lift. He wasn't a caricature of a Spanish barber, but a nuanced leading man. And anyone who can downplay the theatrics of Don Quixote while still delivering a compelling performance must be doing something right.

Instagram

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading...
Sponsored by Ellison Ballet
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Ellison Ballet

If you've got your heart set on dancing for, say, San Francisco Ballet, you should attend a school that specializes in Balanchine, right? Not necessarily: It's actually a misconception that you have to train in a particular style or technique in order to pursue a career in that style. Ellison Ballet in New York City—which specializes in Vaganova technique—is living proof: Graduates of Ellison's year-round program and summer intensives go on to ballet companies that perform in a wide range of styles, and use what they've learned from Vaganova to land jobs.

Here are five reasons why studying Vaganova technique can actually make you a sought-after dancer for any number of ballet companies:

Keep reading...
Ballet Stars
Karina González in Ben Stevenson's Coppélia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Are you more of a Giselle or a Juliet?

I've always said that my favorite role is Juliet, because of her vulnerability and maturity throughout the ballet. But now that I've performed Giselle, I find her so incredibly enjoyable, from being a village girl who falls in love for the first time to the most tender, almost weightless dancing in Act II.

Are you more at home in the studio or onstage?

I love the time in the studio. The process of starting from zero to getting better each day is so rewarding. My favorite phrase in rehearsals is "Let's do it again, so I can sleep in peace tonight." I need to feel so comfortable in the studio so that when I am onstage there are no bad surprises.

Keep reading...
News
Getty Images

Dancers certainly don't need anyone to tell them how physical their profession is. But now, we have the data to prove it.

Researchers at InsuranceProviders.com analyzed data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), a national organization developed through support from the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, to determine the 20 most physically demanding jobs in the country. They analyzed the level of strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination required for a host of jobs, and each category was assigned

Keep reading...