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A Fiery Delight: Olympic Ballet Theatre's Don Quixote

Ashley Baszto and Arcadian Broad in Olympic Ballet Theatre's Don Quixote ARIELLA NOELLE PHOTOGRAPHY

Last weekend, as the Pacific Northwest sat quietly under gray skies, a fiery story filled the Edmonds Performing Arts Center. Don Quixote is a delightful, light-hearted tale that comes and goes as pleasantly as a dream. It hasn’t been performed in Seattle since 2015, so I was thrilled to hear that Olympic Ballet Theatre would be bringing this production back to the stage again after its 2022 premiere. Featuring two guest artists from Cleveland Ballet, Svetlana Svinko and Lorenzo Pontiggia, the company and school dancers filled the stage with bountiful energy and passion. Petipa’s 1869 choreography still feels fresh when it is imbued with such lively joy, and set against the backdrop of John Iacovelli’s gorgeously detailed set designs, Olympic Ballet Theatre’s Don Quixote is bursting with color.

It’s always a treat to see two guest artists from the same company perform couples roles, for their connection is clear even as they step into character. Svetlana Svinko delivered an energetic, playful performance of the character, and managed to hold onto that character even through the technically challenging choreography. Her Act One Kitri variation in particular was exquisite both technically and in how she brought the character’s fierce quality into her dancing. Lorenzio Pontiggia, though a bit stiff at first, blossomed and soared in the role of Basilio. The final act was especially astounding, when it seemed the laws of gravity no longer applied to him.

The company, though small, hosts some incredible dancers who I look forward to seeing in the future. It’s quite interesting to see how in a smaller company, there is much less homogeneity and everyone’s individuality is highlighted to a greater extent. Ria Adachi as Amour was a delightful surprise, and she certainly won the audience over with the charm, quick footwork, and joy that she brought to the role. Alison Walters and Jacqueline Iwamura also stood out for their beautifully detailed work.

In addition to the dancers and school students, four character artists were also featured in the production, who brought to life the characters of Don Quixote, San Pacho, Gamache, and Lorenzo. Frank Borg as San Pancho was a delight right from the start, and nearly stole the show with his antics.

It was a treat to see the stage so full with Olympic Ballet School students, who perform so well that it’s often hard to tell who is a company member and who is a student. I was particularly impressed by the dryads in act two, who held themselves with a poise well beyond their years, and a certain “vintage ballet” nostalgia. 

Throughout the performance, I was amazed at what such a small company is able to produce, and the quality of performance that they bring to Edmonds. Don Quixote is certainly no small ballet, and yet Olympic Ballet Theatre managed to fit it onto a rather tight stage. Energy leapt off into the audience, and I left with the impression that this company deserves a larger venue, because the talent of their current students give hope to the future of OBT evolving into a larger company. I cannot wait to see what they will bring to the stage next season, and as a first time Olympic Ballet Theatre audience member, I can say that I will certainly be back again!

Stage Design by John Iacovelli

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