Pre-professional year students feature in a one-of-a-kind performance of the royal ballet’s don quixote

Pre-professional Year students feature in a one-of-a-kind performance of The Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote

Members of our Pre-professional Year have had the opportunity to perform with The Royal Ballet in their production of Don Quixote on the Royal Opera House main stage from September to November this year. Our students performed alongside the Company in a revived production of Carlos Acosta’s comedic and spirited classical ballet, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ novel.

Performing for special guests

On Tuesday 7 November, several of our Pre-professional Year students performed in Don Quixote in front of special guests, including Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla, in their first visit to the Royal Opera House since their coronation. The one-of-a-kind performance was packed with specially invited audience members, including NHS workers, teachers, the Songs for Ukraine Chorus, and our very own Upper School students.

The exceptional performance of Don Quixote celebrated 75 years of the NHS; The Royal Opera House Songs for Ukraine Chorus, comprising 130 Ukrainians displaced by war; teachers involved in the Royal Opera House’s national Create and Dance, Sing and Design learning programmes; and young people and student’s from arts organisations which Their Majesties are closely affiliated, including The Royal Ballet School, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Dance. The performance was also broadcast to 1281 cinemas around the world.

A memorable experience

Performing at the Royal Opera House with The Royal Ballet provides invaluable experience for our students, and we are thrilled that they receive these opportunities with our parent companies, The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Our students embrace Company life, fully immersing themselves in rehearsals, stage calls, and numerous performances alongside members of The Royal Ballet. We spoke to Pre-professional Year students Joseph and Edoardo about their experience and the role they both performed in Don Quixote:

Joseph: We were able to perform Wine Man, a role that works in Lorenzo’s wine shop, and he sells the wine to Lorenzo and gives wine to the dancers, who are the people of the town. It has been great to interact with the Company on stage and be immersed in Company life.

Edoardo: It is not the biggest role, of course, but it was nice as it was, of course, about the dancing, but it was about the acting on stage, and that’s something that we don’t always do because we train as dancers to get better technique. Here, what was needed was creativity and imagination to find new ways of interaction because it was during a one-hour act.

Joseph and Edoardo shared their experience performing with their inspirations in Don Quixote:

Joseph: It has been very inspiring and fun to be able to go on stage and not necessarily be nervous every time. We can have fun, talk to the Company, and get experience being on the Royal Opera House stage and acting, which is beneficial for our early careers.

Edoardo: As it wasn’t a strict ballet, it’s Don Quixote, and there is a Spanish energy, I’m Italian, but I felt like I could bring some of my personality into my character, and that was really nice to share it with other Company members.

Performing highlights

When you perform alongside Principal dancers and in front of Their Majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla, as well as cinema audiences around the world, it can be hard to choose just one highlight. Joe and Edoardo shared their personal highlights from performing in Don Quixote:

Joseph: We do a kneeling section, where the Principal dancer Kitri comes and taps us on the chin with her fan. Doing that with Marianela Nuñez and Natalia Osipova, being able to dance with them on the Royal Opera House stage, and being so close to them has been an incredible experience that we have been very lucky to have.

Edoardo: The highlight overall is just being able to dance with The Royal Ballet and being a part of it, being there every day and working with them. One of the things I found extremely nice was that we did a Company class the day after we performed; dancing and actually doing ballet classes with all the Company dancers was very inspiring.

Congratulations to all the students who have performed in this run of Don Quixote.  

Photo: Alumni Matthew Ball and Mayara Magri performing in Don Quixote. ©2023 ROH. Photographed by Andrej Uspenksi.