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Coming to Crystal Lake Raue, Ballets with a Twist combines drink, dance in 'Cocktail Hour'

Among the vignettes to be presented by Ballets with a Twist in "Cocktail Hour: The Show" Nov. 11 at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake is Zombie. “One of the ways I describe it is it’s like a sci-fi pool splash, a 1950s invasion of a Los Angeles pool party by very elegant zombies,” Artistic Director Marilyn Klaus said.
Among the vignettes to be presented by Ballets with a Twist in "Cocktail Hour: The Show" Nov. 11 at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake is Zombie. “One of the ways I describe it is it’s like a sci-fi pool splash, a 1950s invasion of a Los Angeles pool party by very elegant zombies,” Artistic Director Marilyn Klaus said.

Have a favorite drink? Ballets with a Twist likely has a dance for it.

The New York-based dance company’s unique pairing of drinks with dance – “Cocktail Hour: The Show” – has drawn interest nationwide, including from those at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, where Ballets with a Twist will make its Raue debut at 8 p.m. Nov. 11.

The show will feature at least 13 dance vignettes, each named after cocktails, such as the Mai Tai, the Roy Rogers, the Martini, the Manhattan, the Zombie, the Rum Runner and others.

“Yes, they are named after beverages, but they really are kind of cultural cocktails,” said Marilyn Klaus, the artistic director and founder of Ballets with a Twist. “I try to get the flavor, sorry for the pun, of that drink or of that time and place.”

Each dance is performed with subtitles, she said, such as the Boilermaker, with the words “five o’clock shadow” under it. “This is the guy that leaves work like Don Draper and just goes and ties one on,” Klaus said.

A Zombie vignette will have animated projections behind it. “One of the ways I describe it is it’s like a sci-fi pool splash, a 1950s invasion of a Los Angeles pool party by very elegant zombies,” Klaus said. The dance’s musical score has a “Godzilla” or Alfred Hitchcock feel, she said.

The dancers, including 10 women and five men, all are classically trained and perform mainly to original music created by the Ballets with a Twist composer. Except for the Roy Rogers number – “Fellas, beware! With a crack of the whip, this rodeo gal corrals her man, America’s Wild West as the backdrop for this amorous chase” – which just had to have “Rawhide” as a musical theme, Klaus said.

“They’re quick [dances] and kind of like for a modern-day audience that doesn’t have a lot of patience,” she said.

Hopefully, she said, audience members will be immersed in the experience, not telling themselves things, such as, “ ‘This is ballet. Am I really going to like it? Somebody dragged me to ballet,’ that kind of thing.”

Along with the show, of course, will be a special selection of cocktails available to buy in the lobby throughout the night. Tickets start at $35 at www.rauecenter.org, 815-356-9212 or the Box Office at 26 N. Williams St.

The production is described as “pop-infused” combined with the “magnetism of Hollywood’s Golden Age with a sleek 21st century sensibility.”

Klaus created Ballets with a Twist in 1996, having grown up with parents who loved big bands and dance. It was a time when Saturday nights meant dressing up for a night on the town.

Klaus tries to recreate that experience with her productions – with wit. What began with the Mai Tai grew into numerous themed dances, such as the Sputnik, described as a “hip rockabilly remix and a rebellious attitude.” And then there’s the Martini – “A dangerous, percussive score sets the stage for this blonde bombshell super spy, who dodges sharpshooters and stays cool in hot situations.”

Performing throughout New York City initially, the dance company eventually was touring the country.

“We get these calls that say, ‘What you’re doing, it might bring our dance audience back,’ ” Klaus said.

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