In the 1980s and early 1990s, Marilyn Klaus began working with composer Stephen Gaboury, presenting dances set to original music in New York City, around the United States, and in Europe, receiving high critical praise. Dance Magazine called her work “wonderfully convoluted madcap pieces… operating on a dozen different levels at once.” The New York Times said, “Arms slither one moment and jab at the air the next… feet bouncing like popping corn,” while Mainzer Rhein-Zeitung raved, “Auch die Ballerina tanzt Rock’n’Roll!” Premieres during this period included Return to Normalcy, Klaus’s signature ballroom dance suite for eight women; Silver Thaw, a quintet about longing tempered by hope; and The Johnny Show, a blend of honky-tonk, circus, and comic revue.
In 1996, Klaus formed Ballets with a Twist and began working with costume designer Catherine Zehr. In its inaugural year, the company appeared at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' Clark Studio Theater, Dance at Holy Trinity, and other venues. Premieres included Seven-Minute Musical, in which an aging beauty reports from the frontlines of memory, and a short musical film, Temple of Swing, in which a glamorous “she” and her charismatic mentor meet in a world of fast cars, packed nightclubs, and mysterious fortune tellers.
From 1996 to 2008, the company appeared at a variety of venues and events throughout New York City, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the Kumble Center for the Performing Arts, the Taste of Dance Festival, To the Pointe programs, and Brooklyn Ballet's First Look, at the Schermerhorn Performance Space, in Brooklyn.
November 2009 saw the premiere of Cocktail Hour: The Show, Klaus' signature evening-length collection of ballet vignettes, at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center.
In 2010, Ballets with a Twist issued its first publication, a photographic collection of the original twelve Cocktail Hour: The Show vignettes. Click here to view.