Issaquah ballet studio presents ‘Don Quixote’

May 31, 2011

By Laura Geggel

The Spanish lovers danced a pas de deux — a dance for two — enamored with each other even though the girl’s father forbade their union.

La Yin (left) plays Basil in the ballet ‘Don Quixote’ as he woes the heroine Kitri, played by Sabrina Schulbach. Photo By Laura Geggel

The father believed the young man, a barber, was too poor to marry his daughter. Luckily – or unluckily for them — the fate of the paramours rested on the actions of the ballet’s hero, Don Quixote.

The Issaquah Highlands dance studio MK Ballet is performing “Don Quixote” at the Meydenbauer Center Theater June 10 and 11.

Michiko Black, the studio’s founder, has spent the past year teaching her students the ballet choreography and sewing costumes for their big performance.

Born in Tokyo, Black has a storied past. She began dancing at age 3, and acted for both TV and film beginning at age 10. By the time she was 18, she placed first out of 1,000 contestants in the Japan National Ballet Competition, and later danced with The Tokyo Ballet.

Judges crowned her Mrs. Tokyo at age 19, and at 22 she left her country for Washington, where she opened MK Ballet in Bremerton. She relocated her studio in Issaquah in 2008.

Her students performed “Coppelia” in 2010, and Black’s crew of about 40 dancers is eager to present “Don Quixote” this year.

“It’s a very exciting Spanish story,” Black said.

If you go 

‘Don Quixote’

  • Meydenbauer Center Theater
  • 1100 N.E. Sixth St., Bellevue
  • 7 p.m. June 10 and 11
  • Tickets cost $30. Purchase at the door or at or call 442-6520.

The ballet tells a different story than the novel written by Miguel de Cervantes in the early 1600s. One of the only similarities is “there’s a guy who’s afraid of windmills,” Issaquah High School junior Ingrid Johansen said, regarding Don Quixote.

The ballet’s heroine, Kitri (Sabrina Schulbach), falls in love with the town’s barber, Basil (La Yin). Her father (Robert Black) urges her to marry the wealthy Gamash (Bruce Evans), but Kitri refuses his hand in marriage.

Enter Don Quixote (Bill Swan), the knight errant. Struck by Kitri’s beauty, he falls in love with her and gallantly tries to protect her from the windmills, which he envisions as four-armed giants.

“He thinks I’m the girl of his dreams,” Schulbach, a sophomore at Skyline High School, said.

As the tale progresses, Kitri and Basil struggle to stay together, despite the obstacles.

Dancing in a performance such as “Don Quixote” is a fun challenge for the ballerinas, since they have to act as well as dance.

“While they are dancing, they have to tell a story,” Black said.

The students not only have Black to direct them, but also Yin, who used to dance with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Black invited Yin to dance with the studio after watching him perform with International Ballet Theatre.

“Sometimes, when we have class, he’ll come and correct us,” Pacific Cascade Middle School seventh-grader Sarah Smith said. “I’ve learned to smile a lot more, to keep my back straight and keep my shoulders down.”

The dancers, from ages 3 to 50, “are doing great,” Yin said. “They are really talented dancers.”

The dancers invited the community to watch their performance, not only because of the compelling tale but also to see what they’ve been rehearsing for nearly three hours a day, six days a week.

“The costumes are amazing and it’s a classic,” Pacific Cascade Middle School eighth-grader Jessica Tanner said. “It’s really funny.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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