intereview Tom Skerritt about playing Don Quixote:http://seattletimes....prmid=head_main
In 1977, Skerritt was offered a role in the ballet drama "The Turning Point," playing a former dancer who now teaches. He knew nothing of that world — "I grew up on the streets of Detroit; there's not a whole lot of ballet or exposure to the arts there" — but agreed to take some ballet classes to prepare for the role. It was, he said, a revelation. "It's exhilarating!" he said. "I had no idea. It was so exciting to discover that. You're fatigued, but that exhilaration lifts you up to a whole other level."
Earlier in the article, he says he told Peter Boal, "I don't dance. I'm just a clumsy ox,' but I don't remember him looking out of place in "The Turning Point": not every retired dancer keeps up a pronounced walk and posture, and I though he moved gracefully.
He was also interviewed on a local radio show -- there was a lead-in about his part in the ballet, but the two co-hosts didn't speak of it -- and he said he was 78. (They kept telling him how wonderful he looked.) I think it's pretty inspiring that a 78-year-old taking ballet class finds it exhiliarating. From the context of his comment, I guess he didn't take class to prepare for "The Turning Point."
Also, speaking about why he chose Skerritt, "Boal, asked about the casting, said that he'd thought of Skerritt some time ago. He knew that Ratmansky preferred to have actors, rather than dancers, play the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza." On the Dutch National Ballet video, this is clear: the Don Quixote mouths lines or directions throughout. It looks like he took a text-based approach, while for Skerritt: "Working without dialogue, however, has been 'kind of freeing,' Skerritt said, noting that it suits the physicality of the character. 'It's like a silent movie — a wonderful challenge.'"