Maine State Ballet’s production of “Don Quixote” is spectacular. It combines all that is best about this company: strong overall performances and the visual impact of the sheer number of performers; fabulous costuming, staging and lighting; and polished artistry punctuated by humor and fun.

“Don Quixote” is, by nature, a “something for everyone” ballet, and the company’s pacing is outstanding, adding up to an extremely entertaining production.

Although Don Quixote is the title character, the star is Kitri, the daughter of an innkeeper, who loves a young barber but is pressured by her father to marry a rich, mincing count. Don Quixote (the towering David Jon Timm) has visions of Dulcinea and forest nymphs, and even briefly tilts at a windmill, but his part in the storyline is to help bring Kitri and her beloved Basilio (Nathaniel Dombek) together.

As Kitri, Rhiannon Pelletier was stunning in the opening performance Thursday evening. She executed Kitri’s hops on pointe in the famed solo variation with both delicacy and quickness, she achieved elevation even in runs, she worked with the music to extract moments of breath in her balances, her acting was nuanced, and each of her varied lifts with Dombek was strong, smooth and well-timed.

Although her musicality and technique were delicious throughout, Pelletier’s most dramatic moment came near the end of the ballet, with an impressive series of fouettes. These whipping turns, famous for the Black Swan’s series of 32 in “Swan Lake,” are not easy, especially without traveling across the stage to maintain balance. Pelletier not only completed 28 or 32 of them (I lost count in all the excitement) but did them on the spot and threw in some doubles as well as a series changing orientation to the four sides of the stage.

Pelletier and Dombek were well-paired in their various duets and the pas de deux. They maintained unison even in landings from jumps – no mean feat for a pas de deux pair, considering the physical differences between male and female dancers – and their arms and legs were in lovely alignment.


Fred Bernier delivered his usual skill at characterization as Count Gamache, in a pistachio and purple suit, plumed hat, heeled and bowed shoes, and a rouged, finely whiskered face. Although typically uncredited, Bernier is also responsible for the lighting that gives the company’s performances a big- theater feel in what is essentially a black box, and technical and scenery design along with stellar costume and set designer Gail Csoboth. Each scene of “Don Quixote” had depth and texture, which was especially beautiful in the moonlit forest.

Jonathan Miele added comic relief as Sancho Panza; it’s always fun to see this Broadway veteran on stage and his bumbling antics were an excellent foil to the stately, dignified Don Quixote.

Adrienne Pelletier was a sprite-like Cupid with a beguiling face, quicksilver leaps, sparkling footwork and musically interpretive balances amid fast-paced rhythms.

Roberto Forleo made his Maine State Ballet debut as King of the Gypsies, with Janet Davis as his Queen. Forleo was smoldering and lithe, imparting gorgeous arrogance to the part. Both technically and artistically, he gave a brilliant performance, including brilliant turn sequences.

The ensemble, including dozens of young dancers each letter-perfect in his or her part, gave depth throughout the performance. An effective final touch was the ensemble’s continuing to dance as the curtain closed, leaving the audience with a lingering sense of color and energy.

Maine State Ballet has added a row of seats to the theater, and it’s a good thing, as every seat was filled opening night. This show is a must-see for ballet lovers and highly accessible for a general audience.

Jennifer Brewer of Saco is a freelance writer, teacher, musician and dancer.

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