Ballet Stars

The '90s were an exciting time at Houston Ballet. Lauren Anderson, who became Houston's first AfricanAmerican principal dancer in 1990, reigned as its queen of virtuosic technique; a few years later, a young Cuban wonder named Carlos Acosta joined the company and became one of her regular partners. The results were nothing less than explosive, as this clip of their Don Quixote pas de deux proves. Dancing at a brisk pace, they imbue the choreography with high-flying allégro, crisp energy and charismatic flair. Within a minute Acosta has Anderson in an overhead press (no biggie!). Later, she attacks her pirouettes with pointed musicality, slicing the air with a dramatic grand ronds de jambe.

In a recent interview with Pointe, Anderson talked about their partnership. "It was a little bit of a battle at first because he's strong and I'm strong," she said, adding that she had already been an established principal when Acosta, who is eight years younger than Anderson, joined the company. "But we found that there was chemistry there. And what was fun was that we were both heavy on the technique side, so we'd compete a bit onstage, especially when we'd get to the coda. As we'd each come out for our solos, we'd try to kick it up a notch." It's easy to see how much fun they're having here. Happy #TBT!

Maya Pineiro and Arián Molina Soca preview a scene from Don Quixote. Photo by Alexander Izilaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet.

When Pennsylvania Ballet premieres artistic director Angel Corella's Don Quixote on March 3 at Philadelphia's Academy of Music, it will be the company's first time performing the audience favorite. With his artistic tenure well underway, and his own experiences to draw from, Corella's vision is clear.

According to Corella, PAB's production is all about authenticity—something he strived for during his own iconic interpretations of the role of Basilio. He plans to keep the classic Petipa choreography but refine the characters, including the gypsies in Act II. “I want to make people's reactions real," he says, “instead of, 'Oh, hi, let's dance together.' "

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Don Quixote overflows with humor, flirtation and romance. And what better character to gather romance and energy than Cupid—performed in this video by the Bolshoi Ballet’s Evgenia Obraztsova. 

 

Obraztsova is one of the elite few holding the dream title of prima ballerina. A native of St. Petersburg, she graduated from the Vaganova Academy and immediately joined the Mariinsky Ballet at 18 years old. This video of Obraztsova’s Cupid variation reveals her impeccable precision and artistry after only four years in the company. From her very first relevés, a lightness and upward energy shoots from her core, creating a quality that leaves the audience breathless. Six years later she would join the Bolshoi, originating new roles and challenging the classics—a definite prima ballerina of our time. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

 

 

Don Quixote's flirtatious and spunky Kitri is an exciting character for ballerinas to portray—any role is fun if it includes a prop fan! But it's also an important stepping-stone in a dancer's professional career, alongside Juliet, Odette/Odile and Aurora. In this 1998 recording, Paloma Herrera masters the role, raising the standard for future Kitris in only her third year as principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre. As she dances this variation, Herrera consumes the stage, abandoning all fear. She enraptures her viewers with both expansive movement and a simple succession of petits emboîtés. After a 24-year career, Herrera will retire her pointe shoes later in 2015—but we will all continue to thirst for her energetic and captivating performances. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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