NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Arts Festival celebrates 25 years this Spring.

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Performances kick off Friday, March 25 with American Ballet Theater’s Don Quixote. The New York City-based company is one of the premier classical ballet companies in the world.

10 On Your Side was inside Chrysler Hall for dress rehearsal Friday afternoon as dancers, crews and orchestra rehearsed for opening night.

Don Quixote is based on a novel of the same name that is written by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes and first published in 1605.

The dance steps performed were choreographed more than 150 years ago by Marius Petipa. The impressive jumps, leaps and pirouettes showcase a dancer’s athleticism.

“I think the audience will really be wowed,” said ABT company dancer Rachel Richardson. “This ballet in particular has a lot of amazing steps and the principals that we have on stage are truly phenomenal. They do a lot of sort of tricks and phenomenal feats that you would not expect to see your average person doing so we’re definitely showing off the athleticism of ballet in this particular show.”

Richardson adds the energy from the audience as COVID restriction ease is palpable from the stage.

“I think because audience members are so excited about getting to see live art again. So it’s been really special. The audience is clapping in places that they maybe wouldn’t normally, and we love it. I think ballet is sort of thought of as very refined so people are sort of quiet with their clapping but post COVID everyone is really hooting and hollering and we love it on stage because we can tell they’re enjoying themselves.”

Festival Artistic Director Rob Cross said they first brought ABT to Norfolk about ten years ago and have been eager to have them return. This year, the timing was on their side. A stop in Hampton Roads fits perfectly into the company’s schedule.

“Our goal is to bring the world’s best artists here for our community,” said Cross. “This performance is great for families. If you’ve got a budding dancer, they’re going to love it.”

There will be three shows at Chrysler Hall: Friday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m.

Cross said people from all over the region are traveling to Norfolk to see the company, which he added should create a nice boost for the local economy.

“Something like American Ballet Theater, people are going to travel to see it. It’s just great for the quality of life for our whole region,” he said. “It’s really an economic driver.”

This is just the start. The 25th anniversary season of the Virginia Arts Festival has plenty of heavy hitters lined up in the coming weeks and months, including Martina McBride, Renee Fleming, Kristin Chenoweth and Mandy Moore.

See the full schedule and purchase tickets online.