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

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

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.

Latest Posts


Dean Barucija, Courtesy Lopes Gomes

Chloé Lopes Gomes Speaks Out About Racial Harassment at Staatsballett Berlin

In November, the French dancer Chloé Lopes Gomes went public with accusations of institutional racism against Staatsballett Berlin, first reported by the German magazine Der Spiegel. In the article, several anonymous dancers confirm her account. Lopes Gomes, 29, who trained in Marseille and at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, danced for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Nice and Béjart Ballet Lausanne before joining Staatsballett Berlin as a corps de ballet member in 2018, under then co-directors Johannes Öhman and Sasha Waltz. After the company told her in October that her contract, which ends in July, would not be renewed, she shared her story with Pointe.


I didn't know I was the first Black female dancer at Staatsballett Berlin when I joined the company in 2018. I learned that from German journalists who came to interview me almost immediately. I grew up in a mixed-race family—my mother was French, my father from Cape Verde—and I was educated to believe that we all have the same opportunities.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Virginia Trudeau, Courtesy NBT

Viva Las Vegas: Life at Nevada Ballet Theatre, Plus Audition Tips From Director Roy Kaiser

Most people associate Las Vegas with "the Strip," where tourists enter a fantasy universe of blackjack, Cher shows and cocktails. But beyond the razzle-dazzle is a metropolitan area of more than 2 million with its own ballet company, Nevada Ballet Theatre. An ensemble of 25 dancers, NBT is now led by Roy Kaiser, former artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Kylie Jefferson (center, back) in "Tiny Pretty Things" (Sophie Giraud, courtesy Netflix)

Netflix’s “Tiny Pretty Things” Faces Ballet Stereotypes Head-On

The pilot of Netflix's dance-centric series "Tiny Pretty Things"—based on the YA novel by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton—will leave you breathless. It touches on, well, everything: love, murder, racism, competition, jealousy, girl cliques, sexual experimentation, eating disorders. And the intricate plot is propelled by equally breathtaking ballet sequences.

Here are the basics of that plot: The Archer School of Ballet is the premiere conservatory in Chicago. During the first three minutes of the episode (no spoilers!), star student Cassie Shore is pirouetting along the edge of the roof of the school when she's pushed off by a hooded man (Her boyfriend? A jealous lover? A ballet master or choreographer?) and dies. Neveah Stroyer, who'd previously been rejected from the school, is flown in from L.A. to replace her.

While the series can verge on melodrama—the pilot does open with a dancer being pushed off a roof, after all—its depiction of the finer details of the ballet world feels spot-on. That was paramount to the production team. "We wanted the dancers to feel represented in their athleticism, and in the sometimes ugly business of making something beautiful," says executive producer Jordanna Fraiberg. "The show encompasses the grit and sweat, before it's wrapped up in costumes and makeup."

Catch "Tiny Pretty Things" streaming on Netflix Monday, December 14.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks