Don Quixote (ballet)

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Wedding pas-de-deux from Don Quixote

Don Quichotte is a ballet by the choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Léon Minkus . The libretto is based on the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes .

The first performance of the work took place on December 26, 1869 in the Bolshoi Theater . Petipa and Minkus expanded the work several times or rewrote parts. The versions listed today are mostly based on the choreography presented by ballet master Alexander Gorski in the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow in 1900 .


Performance of the ballet at the Teatro Teresa Carreño, Caracas
Performance of the ballet at the Teatro Teresa Carreño, Caracas

The characters of Don Quixote and his companion Sancho Panza are only marginally incorporated into the ballet plot. The ballet is mainly about love between the beautiful landlady Kitri and the young barber Basil.


A hut in the Spanish province

Don Quixote wakes up from a nightmare and calls his friend Sancho Panza. In his mental derangement he wants to go out to free the maiden Dulcinea, of whom he dreamed, from the hands of the giants.

first act

The market square of a village

The beautiful and witty Kitri, the innkeeper’s daughter, loves Basil, who makes his living as a barber. Kitri's father, however, doesn't like poor Basil and would rather marry her off to old, idiot, but rich Gamache. However, Kitri and Basil sneak their father’s marriage blessing anyway and finally flee the village.

Second act

The gypsy camp

Kitri and Basil find shelter with the gypsies who camp on the fields in front of the village. They are pursued by Gamache and Don Quixote, but not recognized due to their disguise as gypsies. When a gust of wind sets the nearby windmills in motion, Don Quixote believes he is facing the giants. When trying to fight against them, he is hit on the head and faints.

Third act

Don Quixote's dream

In the dream Don Quixote the wine goddesses (dryads) and their queen Dulcinea appear. Kitri and the messenger of love Amor are also part of the entourage.

Fourth act

In a tavern

Kitri and Basil secretly return to their village, where Kitri's father finally officially allows the marriage.

Fifth act

The wedding

Kitri and Basil celebrate their wedding with a big party.

Pose from Don Quixote

Dance style

The imitation of Spanish dance styles is unmistakably built into the choreography. Again and again the dancers show poses and movements that are borrowed from flamenco or other Spanish folk dances. Typical poses are with the hand resting on the waist or with the arms straight (the arms are usually slightly bent in classical ballet). The posture in the La Faraona style from Flamenco can also be seen: the head and legs are in profile, while the upper body is turned towards the audience. Large parts of the work are so-called character dance . The dancers do not wear ballet shoes, but rather high heels and costumes based on traditional clothing.



3 flutes (3rd piccolo ), 2 oboes , 3 clarinets (3rd bass clarinet ), 3 bassoons (3rd contrabassoon ), 4 horns , 2 trumpets , 3 trombones , bass tuba , percussion (2 games: large and small drum , cymbals , Triangle , bell , block of wood , castanets , wind machine ) 2 harps , strings .

Famous passages

Some parts of the work are particularly well-known and are presented in ballet evenings or in competitions regardless of the context of the piece:

  • Kitris Solo from Act 1
With castanets on his hands, Kitri dances at breakneck speed.
  • Variation of the Dulcinea from the 3rd act
This variation is sometimes shown in the slave pas-de-deux from Le Corsaire .
  • Wedding pas-de-deux from the 5th act
The mixture of technical demands and Spanish character poses is what makes this pas de deux so attractive. 32 fouettés en tournant by the dancer are inserted into the coda , the artistry of which the soloist sometimes enhances by using a fan, various arm positions or multiple turns.

Web links

Commons : Don Quixote  - collection of images, videos and audio files