This is my favorite ballet. I saw the American Ballet Theatre production when it was first broadcast on PBS many years ago and immediately fell in love with it. Don Quixote is based on a short episode in the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. The ballet was composed by Ludwig Minkus and choreographed by Marius Petipa. I’ve posted two videos of this ballet; the first is from the Mariinsky Ballet.
And this is the performance I first saw on TV; it’s terrific and features Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tajo’s favorite dancer. The video quality on this is not very good, which is why I posted the better-quality version above. Either way, I think you’ll enjoy this work.
During his stay with Aunt Lola, Tajo mentions that he and his aunt choreograph their own dance routines, which reminds Tajo of this scene from one of his (and my) favorite movies. All That Jazz is an autobiographical movie by legendary Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse. Roy Scheider plays Joe Gideon, a thinly veiled version of Fosse himself. Gritty, sexy, profane, and filled with all sorts of things that help the movie earn it’s hard-R rating, All That Jazz showcases Fosse’s work at its absolute finest. In this scene, which was inserted into the film after the producers complained that the storyline was becoming too depressing, Ann Reinking (Fosse’s onetime girlfriend who essentially is playing herself in the movie) and Erzsébet Földi (playing Joe’s daughter Michelle) present their own dance routine to the Peter Allen song, “Everything Old is New Again.” This sequence is anything but depressing; the dance was actually choreographed by Reinking and Földi.
If you’re really interested in Bob Fosse’s work, here’s a collection of videos showcasing several of his best numbers. The selections start with a couple of clips from All That Jazz, and, yes, they open with the—*ahem*—rather grown-up choreography of “Take Off With Us.” I assume you won’t watch that if you’re not old enough for it, okay? :3
“Cool” is one of the finest examples of the energetic choreography of Jerome Robbins and is one of my favorite sequences from the film, West Side Story. Robbins co-directed the film (he created the choreography for the show’s original Broadway run) and rehearsed the dancers through all of the numbers before filming began. He was a perfectionist and, as filming began, shot take after take of each scene, causing the shoot to begin running over budget and behind schedule very early in the production. Robbins was soon barred from the set and the film was finished by co-director Robert Wise. But clearly Robbins’ influence can be seen in every step the dancers make.
This is a movement from a piano composition by the Spanish composer Enrique Granados. Tajo likes this piece of music so much, he choreographs his own dance steps to it. Granados himself plays the piano in this recording.
Another song by Sir Elton that Tajo likes a lot is “Home Again,” from Elton’s 2013 album, The Diving Board.
Late in the novel Feeding, this song by the Canadian band Arcade Fire becomes very important to Tajo. You’ll have to read the story to find out why.
Billy Elliot was originally a movie that was turned into a musical by Elton John. It’s the story of a boy who pursues his dream of being a dancer despite fierce opposition from his family and community. Tajo saw the musical on Broadway and immediately decided he wanted to be a dancer, too. Here’s a terrific number from the stage production.
Daphnis et Chloé is based on an ancient Greek fairy tale. The ballet was composed by Maurice Ravel for the Ballets Russes and choreographed by Mikhail Fokine. Daphnis et Chloé is a tale of love, jealousy, and kidnapping with a pagan setting that concludes with a bacchanale, which, as Tajo notes in Feeding, is just another word for an orgy.
Benjamin Britten’s ballet The Prince of the Pagodas tells an original fairy tale of love, good, and evil through very striking and ethereal music and dancing. Tajo mentions this video performance in Feeding; it features Jonathan Cope, one of Tajo’s favorite dancers.
Swan Lake was the first ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and, like all three of his ballets, has become legendary. You can view a complete performance on YouTube from the Bolshoi Ballet, one of the world’s premier ballet companies.
Sleeping Beauty was the second ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. You might recognize some of the music since it was borrowed by the folks at Disney for their 1959 animated film and used in a song from their 2014 re-imagining of the fairy tale, Maleficent. This complete video version is from the Kirov (Mariinsky) Ballet, another top ballet company from Russia.
Check out this post about Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballet, The Nutcracker, which also includes a video of a complete performance.