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DANCIN' FEATS A very Royal engagement
by Lauren Warnecke

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Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1869, "Don Quixote" is a beloved ballet by audiences and dancers alike.

The lead woman, Kitri, is one of the strongest female characters in classical ballet, first appearing on U.S. stages in the 1940s with the grand pas de deux performed by members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. The Royal Ballet of London was the first company to perform a full staging of the ballet outside of Russia, and in 2013 Carlos Acosta would create an entirely new version of the ballet for Royal Ballet, joining a trend among contemporary ballet choreographers restaging, reimagining, and redefining the great 19th-century classics for today's audiences.

The Royal Ballet is headed to the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University June 18-21 as part of a three-city U.S. tour. Acosta's "Don Quixote" at the Auditorium Theatre marks the end of a long drought for Chicago dance audiences: The Royal Ballet has not performed here since 1978. In the special opening -night performance, Acosta will dance the lead role of Basilio, with Marianela Nuñez as Kitri.

Tristan Dyer, 24, is a soloist with The Royal Ballet, visiting Chicago for the very first time while on tour with the company. Dyer is a U.S.-born dancer who attended The Royal Ballet School at Covent Garden, graduating into The Royal Ballet in 2009. He was promoted to soloist in 2014.

"I started dancing at a very young age," he wrote in an email interview with Windy City Times, "after my grandmother took me to a performance of The Nutcracker." Dyer's family moved a lot. "Dance was something that kept me going through all the travelling," he said. "I was sure to find a new dance school as soon as I touched down in each country." Apparently he chose wisely, training at The National Ballet School of Canada and Australian Ballet School before landing a spot at Covent Garden.

As a member of the world-renowned Royal Ballet, Dyer's schedule is intense, and he said he rehearses up to six different ballets on any given day. His repertoire includes a wide variety of roles, including the "spic[y] and very sensual" Lead Matador in Acosta's "Don Quixote." Still, the dancers find time for fun, and Dyer enjoys being part of London's vibrant LGBT community. "I'm someone who enjoys living life the fullest. I love people to all extremes of personalities… Life is too short to pretend to be someone who you are not."

For Dyer, reconciling his sexuality with religion was the most challenging part of coming out. "I grew up around religion and God has always been a figure in my life," he said. "The hardest part for me was accepting that it is 'ok' to be gay … that there isn't something wrong with me." His parents were supportive and accepting, and he said that being around other artists made coming out easier.

Tristan Dyer of The Royal Ballet performs the role of Lead Matador in Carlos Acosta's "Don Quixote" June 18-21 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy, as part of the Auditorium's 125th anniversary celebration. Tickets start at $32, on sale now and available online atï申, or by calling 800-982-ARTS ( 2787 ) .

A special gala will honor the Royal Ballet's debut at the Auditorium, and return to Chicago after 37 years, co-chaired by Jay Franke and David Herro. The gala will take place on Tuesday, June 16, 6 p.m., at the new Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave. Guests are treated to cocktails and dinner with Royal Ballet dancers and members of the artistic staff, as well as the evening's honorary chairs: British Consul General Stephen and Mrs. Kim Bridges. Individual tickets ( $350 ) and tables ( starting at $3,500 ) are available by contacting Amanda Byrne at 312-341-2364 or .ï申ï申

ï申 Also this month: Chicago Tap Theatre ( CTT ) presents the world premiere ofï申"Circo Tap," a continuation of TightWire," which premiered last spring at Stage 773. The unique combination of tap dance, circus arts and live music is choreographed by CTT Artistic Director Mark Yonally, with music by Kurt Schewitz. "Circo Tap" is a special one-night-only engagement at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave.,ï申Saturday, June 27, at 8 p.m.ï申 Tickets are $22-35; visitï申www.athenaeumtheatre.orgï申or call 773-935-6875 .

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