Soo Youn Cho as Kitri in 'Don Quixote' © Amitava Sarkar


Soo Youn Cho on the exuberant female lead in “Don Quixote”

Not everyone knows who are the most memorable characters of the dance world. About this, in every issue we talk with a dancer of a renowned ballet company to find out the who’s who amongst the most famous and iconic of ballet figures.

The first adjectives I would use to describe Kitri are enthusiastic and passionate.” There is no doubt Soo Youn Cho loves this character. The beautiful Principal dancer of the Houston Ballet is able to go deep while talking about a role that has often been considered slightly one-dimensional – yet she can prove it is not one-dimensional at all.

I always like to imagine when I am dancing Kitri that she has a lot of different personalities inside of her” she tells me. “She is fascinating — hot and sexy, sometimes cute, playful and funny, straightforward. She knows what she likes and what she doesn’t like. She does what she wants.

Soo Youn Cho in ‘Don Quixote’ with Jared Matthews © Amitava Sarkar

Kitri is seen as one of the toughest roles for a female dancer. “When I dance as Kitri, the technical stuff is only the beginning” she explains. “These need to be executed well, of course, but the most important thing is being in that moment with Kitri’s character so it comes off in a very natural way that isn’t forced and to build the story for the audience about the relationship with Basilio from the beginning until the happy ending.

Assuredly, the role is a physically demanding one. “When I danced this role last time in 2018, I remember the main challenge for me was maintaining my physical condition because I was struggling with my back disc injury” Soo reveals. “This ballet has a lot of tossing with your partner and acrobatic jumps, which was uncomfortable for my back on and off.

I think this role requires very powerful dancing, and it has difficult techniques” she adds. With regards to the most challenging parts of Don Quixote, Soo Youn Cho points out that “the first act is pretty tough for the female lead because from her first solo entrance, which is super energetic and has many grand allegros and jumps, she is onstage the entire first act and keeps dancing. Additionally, in the second act, she has to change character as Dulcinea. After Act 2, your body is getting tired. I think it’s pretty tough to keep that strong energy and character going until the end. I’ve learned over time and with all the rehearsals how to tell when to push harder and when I can take it a little easier. It takes time and isn’t easy, but I enjoy it a lot!”.

When I ask her if she is as determined and stubborn as Kitri in her everyday life, she answers, “To be honest, I think I am stubborn, too. My stubborn determination is why I was able to start ballet and how I got to where I am today.

If Soo Youn Cho could meet Kitri in real life, what would she tell her? “This might be silly answer, but, if I could meet Kitri in real life, I would like to cook for her and invite her to dinner for a wonderful girls night. Because people get close when they eat together. I’d tell her that I really like her personality and want to be good friends and talk about life things and love stories and so on, like what girls usually talk about. I just want to have a good time with her. I think she will be super cool and funny.

Column by Alessandro Bizzotto