Don Quixote at Pacific Northwest Ballet

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Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Carla Körbes and Karel Cruz will be appearing in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote, February 3-12, 2012. Photo © Angela Sterling

You would have to search long and hard for an ugly photo of either Carla Körbes or Karel Cruz. Finding an unflattering photo, film clip, or an awkward moment of the two of them together is impossible. You might as well be fighting windmills. Is there a more sublimely regal presence on stage than Carla? Watching Karel leap as if only the ceiling of Pacific Northwest Ballet's rehearsal studio is his limit and land as if he were made of cotton is astounding. The two of them dance the leads in the American premiere of Alexei Ratmanski's Don Quixote and they along with the rest of the company are not to be missed.

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Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Maria Chapman with company dancers in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote. Photo © Angela Sterling

Like millions of soccer moms and Little League dads around the world I spend a great deal of time heading to, hanging out in and coming back from my son's sports events. His particular "field" happens to be the Pacific Northwest Ballet's School and this winter that has afforded us glimpses of the rehearsals for this colossus of a ballet.

You can positively feel the building, the studio, the staff and most importantly the dancers vibrating. The pressure is on because this is among the great pieces of contemporary choreography and everyone involved wants to deliver. According to the PNB, it is the largest production they've ever mounted with a budget a breathtaking $860,000. It filled nine containers just to ship the material from Dutch National Ballet where it was originally staged (at a cost of $3 million), 500 square feet more of stage and more lumber than PNB's Coppélia, Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty, combined. 280 costumes, every member of the company plus a cadre of students, and over a hundred wigs packed into ten performances. All that and you get to see "Viper" play Don Quixote.

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Emmy Award-winning actor Tom Skerritt rehearsing the title role in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote. Photo © Lindsay Thomas

This ballet is the telling of one storyline of the epic literary classic Don Quixote. It follows the up and down fate of the lovers Kitri and Basilio's fight to remain together despite her father Lorenzo's ambition for her to marry the ridiculous Gamache. It is a riot of swinging capes, bullfights, thievery, peasant drama and successful deception. PNB's own "resident historian" Doug Fullington has provided a wonderful explanation of how Cervantes' masterpiece developed into a virtuoso ballet. blogger Alice Kaderlan has pushed that story forward in an insightful behind-the-scenes profile of the company and choreographer's preparations for Friday night's opening.

This ballet dad and his son can't wait for the spectacle to unfold.

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Dutch National Ballet company dancers in Alexei Ratmansky's Don Quixote. Photo © Angela Sterling