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That future is anchored in the art form’s history. Yuri Possokhov’s choreography is based on a Russian version of “Don Quixote” with roots in Marius Petipa’s 1869 production. Petipa is known for synthesizing the mime and formal vocabulary from ballet’s previous century with then-popular folk dances and a Romantic penchant for the ethereal. With classic formal beauty, his works laid the groundwork for classical ballet today.
Nathan Griswold, guest artist with Atlanta Ballet, performs the title role in Yuri Possokhov’s “Don Quixote.” CONTRIBUTED BY KIM KENNEY / ATLANTA BALLET
The story in “Don Quixote” is culled from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel — mainly, an episode in which the Don and his squire encounter a village where Kitri, an innkeeper’s daughter, is about to be married to the ridiculously foppish rich man, Gamache. But Kitri and the dashing (but poor) Basilio are in love.
The result is a comedy done with fast-paced storytelling, animated mime and strong technical dancing.
Wendall K. Harrington’s projection designs, updated for the Cobb Energy Centre stage, transport the imagination to 17th-century Spain, its literature, and even into the Don’s mind, where images from chivalric romances drifted. Later, outlines of giant monsters loomed ominous in a stormy windmill scene.
Just as conductor Jonathan McPhee and the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra found their groove in Ludwig Minkus’ score by Sunday, so did leading dancers.
From Friday to Sunday, Nathan Griswold made staggering progress as Don Quixote, fully embodying the old knight’s sense of vision and unflagging drive.
As Kitri, Erica Alvarado sported clean arabesques, crisp port de bras and confident legwork. She carried the role with intelligence and flair, while there’s more depth to be discovered in her character.
Alvarado had good chemistry with Sergio Masero-Olarte, who made his debut as Basilio. A native of Madrid, and student of Spanish regional dances, Masero-Olarte took to the style naturally and acted the young suitor with charm, exuberance and a bit of mischief — then sailed across the stage with buoyant leaps.
Atlanta Ballet artist Francesca Loi performs as Mercedes, a street dancer, in Yuri Possokhov’s “Don Quixote.” CONTRIBUTED BY KIM KENNEY / ATLANTA BALLET
As Mercedes, the street dancer, Francesca Loi infused the action with a Spanish heart and soul. Proud and high-chested, with flurried footwork, swishing skirt and arms striking the air, she was bold and kinetic, with fierce feminine power.
It was clear that Atlanta Ballet is at the start of a new trajectory, and “Don Quixote” showed that there are higher marks to reach, but at the rate these dancers are improving, it won’t take long.
“Don Quixote.” Presented by Atlanta Ballet.
8 p.m. Feb. 9-10. $20-$129. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-982-2787, www.atlantaballet.com.
Here are some fun events happening in February around Atlanta “Don Quixote” Atlanta Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k Road Race Sips Under the Sea North Atlanta Home Show Mardi Gras Streetcar Adventure African-American History Tours of Oakland Cemetery Oysterfest