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Posted: October 14, 2009

Don Quixote promises love, laughs—and a windmill

The Colorado Ballet offers good deals and a great story

Maria Martin

For a novel published in the early 1600s, The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha  sure has staying power.

Miguel de Cervantes' magnum opus, published in two volumes a decade apart, is a tale of a middle-aged man in Spain who is so obsessed with tales of chivalry, he decides to take sword in hand to go out in the world and defend the helpless.

The fact that a windmill appears to take on the form of an enemy to slay defines Quixote as a soul lost in a world all his own, and in the end, he causes perhaps more harm than good in his travels.

The characters he meets along the way define the novels as much as the surrealistic character who tilts at windmills.

When the Colorado Ballet performs Don Quixote, opening Oct. 16 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the focus will be on chapters from the latter volume, and you can bet on plenty of humor and romance.

"And of course, a windmill," says Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs with a laugh. "You have to have a windmill."

Though the second ballet of the season hasn't seen booming ticket sales, Boggs has high hopes that will change.

"The value of the production is that it's a wonderful story," says Boggs, 49. "It has humor and bravura dancing. On opening night Maria Mosina and Igor Vassine play two young lovers. They have amazing technical skills."

Quixote himself must be played by an older dancer, Boggs explains. He must move more slowly, as if he has weights tied to his ankles.

Modern productions of the ballet are based on the choreography of Marius Petipa to music by Leon Minkus in 1869. Boggs and his team staged this one for the Denver company.

The artistic director, who grew up in Atlanta and spent 25 years in New York as a performer, has been with the Colorado Ballet since 2006.

"It's a stressful time with the economy right now, but I'm confident we'll have a good season," Boggs says. "People need to remember that we offer good deals to draw the crowds in."

He's confident that the annual production of the Nutcracker Ballet will do well, as will Beauty and the Beast in the spring.

"It's good to have a production with humor, and if your audience is familiar with the performance, attendance will go up."

It would not take a quixotic person, Boggs says, to attend this performance. That is to say, you need not be chivalrous or idealistic to buy tickets, nor would it be impractical.

"The show will impress the crowd, I guarantee," he says. "If you come to see us once, you'll want to come back again. We're that good."

When: Oct. 16-Oct. 25. Call or go online for performance times

Where: Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 950 13th St .

Tickets: Range from $19-$129

Information: 303-837-8888, coloradoballet.org

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Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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