Memories of Basilio
Kitri may be the firecracker star of Don Quixote, but her energy, stamina and vigor can be matched by her equally feisty partner Basilio. In the story, the lively innkeeper’s daughter and the dashing barber are in love with each other, but they have to outwit Kitri’s father who has someone else in mind for her.
Of the numerous roles he took on in his dancing career, Ballet Manila co-artistic director Osias Barroso relished being Basilio immensely. “He was memorable because the character suited my personality,” he notes. Happy, charming and fun are the traits that, for him, made Basilio such a joy to dance.
Barroso’s first Basilio wasn’t planned, however. He remembers that in 1992, he and now BM artistic director Lisa Macuja-Elizalde were invited to guest in the First International Music and Ballet Festival of the Asian Pacific Region in Krasnoyarsk. They had rehearsed Giselle back in Manila but were surprised to be told, upon arriving in Russia, that they were to dance Don Quixote instead.
The sudden change posed a tough challenge for Barroso, as the style and technical demands of the two classics couldn’t have been more different – Giselle, subdued and romantic, and Don Quixote, energetic and flashy. That he had only three days to learn and prepare for his debut in the full-length ballet increased the degree of difficulty even more.
“Within four rehearsals, I learned the whole thing,” says Barroso, who marvels even now how he managed to do it.
His Kitri certainly had no complaints. Writing in her newspaper column On Pointes in 1992, Macuja-Elizalde describes her Basilio thus: “Osias pulled off Don Quixote with his usual reliable partnering, Spanish temperament underlining his very Hispanic family name Barroso and his quick-step assured technique.”
The partners would dance the full-length Don Quixote and its famed pas de deux in many other Russian festivals after that, as well as in various engagements in the Philippines. Asked why their Don Q became a favorite for many, Barroso – who is mentoring a new generation of Basilios in Ballet Manila – smilingly surmises: “I think Lisa and I had a chemistry that matched or even surpassed the technique.”