San Francisco Ballet‘s last program of the season is “Don Quixote,” aka “Don Q.” The ballet features choreography by Alexander Gorsky and Marius Petipa with staging and additional choreography by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and Choreographer-in-Residence Yuri Possokhov.

What: San Francisco Ballet’s “Don Quixote”

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco

When: Through May 6

Tickets: Online, via 415.865.2000, or at the Ballet Box Office at 301 Van Ness Ave.

This year, the production features all new sets and costumes designed by Martin Pakledinaz. The painted backdrops, in warm hues of corals and peaches, harken back to a Mediterranean village near the sea, and the costumes, especially the ladies’ dresses, move like a soft breeze on a warm summer’s day. The men’s costumes, for the most part, were nothing out of the ordinary, although I kept mistaking the six toreadors for University of Florida marching band members.

The ballet comes in at two and a half hours, but it whips by in no time. With deep belly laughs, bravado, masterful technique, and uplifting choreography, “Don Q” has something for just about everyone. In fact…


San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson/Possokhov’s “Don Quixote.” © Erik Tomasson

You might like SF Ballet’s “Don Quixote” if:

  1. You’re looking for a ballet based on two bros who go on a quest, one that infuses a bit of the goofiness of “Harold and Kumar” (minus any drug references) into expansive dance scenes. On opening night, Jim Sohm as Don Quixote and Pascal Molat as his buddy Sancho Panza yukked it up; they made quite a pair.
  2. Vacation is calling and if you had enough miles saved up, you’d journey far away to a quaint Spanish seaside town where the town square basks in warm sunlight and the crystalline sea twinkles in the distance.
  3. You automatically know who your one true love is because he wears the same color that you do. You met a guy who pulls off crimson just as well as you do? And nobody else wears that color in your neighborhood? Congrats! You’re obviously meant to be. Just be prepared for dad not to “get it” without a lot of persuasion, a chase through gypsy territory, and a fake suicide.
  4. You have a secret affinity for donkeys and horses stealing the show. But especially donkeys.
  5. Your evening (or afternoon) calls for a big dose of wow factor. On opening night, the sheer technical genius on stage–from Kitri (the explosive and flirty Vanessa Zahorian) and Basilio (danced by boyishly charming Joan Boada) all the way down to the supporting cast and corps–combined with a full-out performance lifted the evening from enjoyable to a knock-out.
  6. At intermission, you ramble on about the performance to your date and ignore emails, texts, and the Giants box score.
  7. You still practice Keaunu Reeves’ slo-mo backbends from “The Matrix.” Sarah Van Patten, dancing the part of Mercedes, does them way better, slowly twisting from the top of her foot up to her hips and shoulders, letting her arms drift overhead as she tilts her head back in a full release. She then unfurls and continues on in dazzling, luscious body arching spirals, without any need for slick Ray-Bans or a leather duster.
  8. You’re OK with a PG-friendly butt squeeze or boob grab. On stage, I mean.
  9. You can clap. Fast. And furiously.
  10. You’ve been aching to see Jack-Sparrow-meets-Mozart-meets-Adventures-of-Priscilla-Queen-of-the-Desert realized on stage. If so, the silly and almost-too-over-the-top character of Gamache is your man.
  11. (Yes, this is number 11. Excessive, maybe, but what’s one more bullet in this little list?) Resounding and passionate classical music is your thing. Ludwig Minkus’ score has stood the test of time, and it’s mighty catchy. so much so that people may merrily hum the coda as you funnel out of the theater. The orchestra, under Martin West’s baton, will probably sound better than your internal instrumental, but your own version will sure put a spring in your step as you hippity-hop your way home.

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the author

Becca Klarin writes about dance. Her first stage role was at the age of four, where she dressed in a brightly colored bumble bee tutu and black patent leather taps shoes. She remembers bright lights and spinning in circles with her eleven other bees, but nothing more. Becca also has an affinity for things beginning with the letter "P", including Pizzetta 211, Fort Point, pilates, parsvakonasana, and plies.

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