First State Ballet Theatre took its production of “The Nutcracker” to DelTech in Georgetown last winter to raves, and returns this fall to kick off their statewide season with "Don Quixote."

First State Ballet Theatre took its production of “The Nutcracker” to Delaware Tech in Georgetown last winter to raves. Enthusiastic audience members overwhelmingly said that yes, they would return for a non-“Nutcracker” performance if one were offered.

Ask, and you shall receive.

The FSBT will open its season by premiering “Don Quixote” Saturday at DelTech’s Arts and Sciences Center, Georgetown.

The story follows Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on Quixote’s quest to become a knight errant. Don Quixote arrives at an inn and finds himself smitten by the innkeeper’s daughter, Kitri, who he imagines to be his love Dulcinea. However, the lively and flirtatious Kitri already has two suitors: Basilio, the poor barber, and Gamache, the wealthy nobleman. Her father wants her to be with Gamache, although her heart belongs to Basilio.

“Don Quixote” is one the most famous – and most beautiful – ballets, according to Robert Grenfell, FSBT president and executive director. The mix of familiar classical music, elaborate costumes from Russia, and exciting choreography will make believers of ballet neophytes, he said.

“The choreography is brilliant; it’s exciting, it’s interesting, it’s athletic,” Grenfell said. “It requires great technical skill and great artistry to perform it well.”

One of the most exciting things for Grenfell, who’s dancing the role of the innkeeper, is performing alongside Pasha Kambalov, the company’s artistic director.

“It’s been a while since he’s been on stage so this will be a real treat for people,” he said.

Kambalov plays Gamache opposite Angela Zintchenko as Kitri.
The fiery Kitri is a challenging role that requires superior acting, grace and athleticism, Grenfell said. Zintchenko hopes to bring all of these to the role, as well as attitude.

“You have to have a lot of fire and freedom in the character,” she said.
Zintchenko has been polishing her skills, readying for this with recent leads in “Coppelia” and “Swan Lake.”

“Having done both of those roles has prepared me for this one, because now I can sort of incorporate all the characters,” she said.

Helping her get into the role has been Leonid Goykhman, who dances the part of her true love Basilio. The two have partnered in multiple productions over the past few years, so they have a shorthand with each other on stage, Goykhman said.

Still, it’s a tough ballet even for skilled dancers.

“The dancing is very difficult and dynamic and I was hungry for that type of challenge,” he said.

Grenfell said the company is facing a challenge as well in trying to find ballet audiences throughout the state. They’re trying to build an audience by blending classics like “Don Quixote” with more contemporary offerings and taking them on the road. This season they’re staging nine productions in five venues across all three counties.

When asked where they’d like to perform, Grenfell said it’s simple:
“Anywhere that there’s a stage that’s big enough and anywhere we think we can get an audience.”