Editor’s Pick: ABT’s “Don Quixote” At The Kennedy Center

Don Quixote: Christine Shevchenko -- Photo: Rosalie O'Connor
Don Quixote: Christine Shevchenko — Photo: Rosalie O’Connor

In 1971, the American Ballet Theatre helped to christen the Kennedy Center during the venue’s opening week festivities by performing the celebrated grand pas de deux from the classic ballet adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote.

In honor of the center’s 50th anniversary season, the acclaimed New York-based company once again revives the signature duet of bravura dancing between the spirited maiden Kitri and her charming amour Basilio — this time performed in its proper place as the stirring climax to the full-length Don Quixote.

A sweeping and romantic tale, the rollicking, high-spirited ballet was developed by legendary Russian choreographer Marius Petipa, with further refinement by Petipa’s former student and regular assistant Alexander Gorsky.

Set to music by Ludwig Minkus in a staging by ABT’s Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and longtime Regisseur Susan Jones, Don Quixote offers what the company calls “a feast of choreographic fireworks.”

A different coupling of dancers from the company’s starry roster will be featured at each of five performances in the Opera House, kicking off with Isabella Boylston as Kitri and Daniil Simkin as Basilio on Thursday, March 31.

The premiere dance organization, decreed “America’s National Ballet Company” by an act of Congress in 2006, will mark its return to the Kennedy Center earlier this week with two evening performances of the mixed-repertory program “ABT Forward.”

Billed as a showcase of “the company’s artistry in three dazzling works by today’s modern masters of choreography,” the program includes Bernstein in a Bubble, a work by Alexei Ratmansky developed in pandemic quarantine and inspired by the variety, charm, and quintessentially American spirit of Leonard Bernstein’s Divertimento; ZigZag, a joyous piece, set to songs by iconic crooner Tony Bennett, from Jessica Lang, hailed as a “master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine; and Single Eye, a new, innovative work by Alonzo King and set to music by Jason Moran.

The first performance, on Tuesday, March 29, will also serve as a celebratory tribute to McKenzie as he prepares for his retirement from the organization. ABT Forward also runs on March 30.

Don Quixote runs from March 31 to April 3. Call 202-467-4600 or visit

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