Artistic Director Willy Shives lovingly leads Ballet San Antonio’s preparation for Don Quixote, their sassy and joyous season opener you need to see.
If you know me personally, you know that I used to dance. Not only did I study it intensely for 12 years before musical theater pulled my focus, but ballet was the first love of my life. It was the first passion I developed, the first activity that taught me it takes discipline, determination, sometimes pain, and much sacrifice to make something you are proud of. It was my introduction to the art of storytelling, and my idyllic bubble in which to explore connecting with an audience. It was also the first thing that caused me real heartbreak when my body just didn’t work at the level required to be an elite athlete anymore, and I was forced to pour my passions into other art forms. Now, as an adult, I channel that unrequited love affair with the tutus I once wore into my involvement with organizations like Ballet San Antonio.
Due to the fact that the San Antonio nonprofit arts community is comprised of a fairly small network of supporters that lean on each other to grow their organizations, I have been involved (in a very small capacity) in cheering on our Ballet company for the past several years. I developed friendships with Ballet San Antonio’s staff and Board members during the years I worked at The Tobin Center, and I have been invited to perform in The Nutcracker as a guest with the company in years past, allowing me to develop friendships with several of the dancers. Earlier this week, as luck would have it, I was at a luncheon for another local nonprofit, and I just happened to be seated across the table from the current Board Chair for Ballet San Antonio, Christine Varela Mayer. Two and a half hours later, she had both me and the lovely lady sitting next to me convinced to drop into rehearsal this week and help grow the organization in any way we knew how.
All of a sudden, there I was: back in the studio, sitting in a chair watching rehearsal, in awe. Ballet San Antonio has a new Artistic Director: Willy Shives. From what I felt in our introductions and from my observations in the studio, he is the most smiley, loving, and genuinely wonderful human…and I haven’t even had the chance to speak with him at length (yet) because he was busy working. His creative genius emanated from his corner of the rehearsal room as he furiously marked choreography, mumbling notes quietly and constantly to his Ballet Mistress Cenezca Cortellan.
With every sauté, pirouette, and port de bras the dancers brought to life in character, I could feel the passion for the art form rush through my veins again. My awareness became so intense that my muscles started to remember how it felt to be en pointe. It took every bit of self-restraint to not kick off my heels and jump right in with the Corps, evoking the amorous and vivacious emotions of the players in the famed fable of Don Quixote.
So as to spare the spoilers and preserve the element of surprise, I’ll sign off by encouraging you to get your tickets to Don Quixote and feel the passion for yourself. It’s contagious. There are three casts, giving the talented dancers from all positions in the company a chance to shine. The curtain will rise at The Tobin Center’s H-E-B Performance Hall on Friday October 14th at 7:30pm, Saturday October 15th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday October 16th at 2:00pm.
All rehearsal photos and opinions shared in this article are my own. Thank you Christine, Lisa, Willy, Evie, and the company for having me…and as they say in the world of ballet, “Merde!”
Thank you to Ballet San Antonio for sponsoring this post.