The ballet Don Quixote depicts classical Russian elegance dressed in fiery Spanish flair. Although Marius Petipa's version for the Bolshoi Ballet debuted in 1869, most modern productions are based off of Alexander Gorksy's 1900 revival. He sought to trade Petipa's pageantry for more naturalistic storytelling. However, it seems that Gorsky ceded to the suspension of narrative in Act III, keeping the grandiose wedding pas de deux to showcase the Bolshoi stars' resplendent technique.
Many decades later, it still shines. In this 1972 clip, former Bolshoi Ballet principals Vladimir Vasiliev and the late Ekaterina Maximova dance Basilio and Kitri. In the opening section, they bring flair to each dramatic shape and deep dive, but the two really impress in their variations and the coda. After 10 rapid pirouettes (3:50), Vasiliev closes to fifth with a smoothness that wouldn't disturb a teacup on a porcelain saucer, and Maximova is all sass with her playfully angled shoulders and flicking wrists. In the coda, they both keep time with the sprinting tempo, and you can tell that the two are having a blast. Vasiliev's technical bravura and Maximova's pixie-like exuberance are perfectly wedded and, in real life, so were they! Happy #ThrowbackThursday!