Don Quichot with Anna Tsygankova
Anna Tsygankova in Don Quixote (2010) | Photo: Angela Sterling

Principal dancers Anna Tsygankova and Timothy van Poucke about the leading roles in Don Quixote

29 February 2024

With Alexei Ratmansky’s production in 2010, the Netherlands received its first complete Don Quixote ballet, a version that is also internationally acclaimed as the most beautiful and thoughtful interpretation of the choreography. Ratmansky’s Don Quixote has also yielded several nominations and awards for performers in the leading roles, including awards for Anna Tsygankova and Timothy van Poucke.

Anna Tsygankova was the first Kitri in Ratmansky’s Don Quixote in 2010, which earned her a nomination for the ‘Zwaan’ award for ‘Most impressive dance achievement’ 
Don Quixote is truly my ballet. At the ballet academy in Novosibirsk (Siberia – ed.), I already seemed predestined for heroic roles and bravura ballets, so the role of Kitri is made for me. Still, it was really hard work when Alexei Ratmansky created his Don Quixote for our company in 2010. He pays attention to every last detail, and we rehearsed endlessly. But it all paid off in the end, as the production was a phenomenal success right from its premiere. Alexei’s interventions and the way he places dramatic accents and develops roles make this production shine like no other. I had to miss the last series of performances in 2018, as I was pregnant, so I feel an enormous inner urge to dive into this adventure again, this time partnered by Giorgi Potskhishvili. Every role keeps on developing, even when you’re not dancing it, so I’m incredibly curious as to which Kitri will surface in me this time, and how she and ‘her’ Basilio will react to each other and reflect one another.”

Anna Tsygankova

“The role of Kitri is made for me”

Anna Tsygankova
Anna Tsygankova | Photo: Jan Willem Kaldenbach
Timothy van Poucke
Timothy van Poucke | Photo: Jan Willem Kaldenbach

Timothy van Poucke

“It’s a real dream role for many boys”

Timothy van Poucke made his debut as Basilio in 2018, for which he was awarded the Alexandra Radius Prize
“As a dance student, I was always watching a recording of the ballet, with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the role of Basilio. It’s a real dream role for many boys, because of its youthful character and the virtuosity you can display in it. So for years I practiced Basilio’s steps, although of course nobody took me seriously as a young boy. That all changed when Rachel Beaujean (associate artistic director of Dutch National Ballet – ed.) suddenly asked me halfway through my first season with the company if I could do a double saut de basque en dedans. That’s the opening jump from one of Basilio’s variations, so all of a sudden things got very serious indeed. Basilio became my first main role, while I was still in the rank of élève. I felt like a child who was allowed to open a Christmas present a few days early. The whole working process, along with Salome Leverashvili (as Kitri – ed.) was wonderful. The young, fresh energy we had then really helped to lend the right flair and festive character to the ballet. Now, with six more years’ experience, I hope to be able to add more in the way of technique and acting, while still retaining that energy.” 

Text: Astrid van Leeuwen

  • Dutch National Ballet’s Don Quixote can be seen at Dutch National Opera & Ballet from 11 October to 2 November 2024