‘Cocktail Hour’ dance to begin fall arts season

Adam Tumino, Reporter

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On the menu at the Doudna Fine Arts Center this Thursday and Friday will be “Cocktail Hour: The Show,” the signature work of New York City-based company Ballets with a Twist. 

The show is a collection of dance vignettes, or cocktails, each named after and representing a different beverage. 

The shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $25 and beverages, including special cocktails and mocktails, will be available. 

Ballets with a Twist was founded by choreographer and artistic director Marilyn Klaus and composer Stephen Gaboury in 1996. Klaus said she began putting together the vignettes around that time, but the show was performed for the first time in 2009.

“We have about 33 dance vignettes now,” Klaus said. “We make a few every year.”

Since there are so many cocktails to choose from, Ballets with a Twist will perform a different program each night. 

“I try to figure out what will be a good program and make sure each dancer has enough interesting material to perform,” Klaus said, although there are restrictions to which vignettes can be performed in succession.

Dancers Claire Mazza and Andres Neira will perform in the show, and each have a favorite cocktail that will be included at Doudna. 

“I’m partial to ‘Mojito,’ which was more recently made,” Mazza said. “It’s a dance made for six people, but three couples. And I’ve done two of the different couples so far.”

She said she enjoys how each couple does different things during the performance and tell their own stories.

Neira said his favorite vignette is “Cuba Libre,” in part because it was choreographed for him. 

“It’s like my baby,” Neira said. 

“Mojito” and “Cuba Libre” are actually both part of a three-movement piece called “Rum Runner.” Along with a third segment, “Caipirinha,” this piece will be the final one performed in Friday’s show. 

Dan Crews, the director of programming at Doudna, said he has been working on getting Ballets with a Twist to campus for a couple of years, and it worked out to have them open the 2019-2020 season. 

“I looked at them and thought ‘that’s something that I think would appeal to the people who come to Doudna events,’” Crews said. “We have an audience that’s kind of hungry for dance.”

Mazza said she thinks the show can also appeal to people who may not be familiar with dance.

“It has something for everybody,” she said. “It spans from ballet through contemporary to jazz. Each of the spirits of the pieces, pun intended, is also diversified.”

Neira said people who are new to dance shows could be impressed.

“I would call it eclectic,” Neira said. “I think it is a perfect show for somebody who has never seen a dance show. It’s a perfect gateway to fall in love with it.”

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]