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COCKTAIL HOUR at UA-Pulaski Tech: The Center For Humanities And Arts

This collection of drinks turned ballet vignettes finished out the ACANSA Festival

By Theresa Bertram — Oct. 07, 2023
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To close out the ACANSA Festival Saturday, Sept. 23, Ballets with a Twist brought the glamour to the UA-PTC CHARTS stage in North Little Rock with an inventive production called COCKTAIL HOUR: THE SHOW. Made up of New York City ballet performers, these classically trained dancers mixed it up with different themed vignettes that brought a new meaning to happy hour.   

Before the show, I was able to ask choreographer Marilyn Klaus about the origin of COCKTAIL HOUR: THE SHOW.
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I started putting different choreographic pieces together in 1996, then we did our first COCKTAIL HOUR show, about 10 or 12 years ago,” Klaus said. “Since that time, we have added a tremendous amount of repertory with different cocktails.
To open the show, the troupe opened with a big group number entitled Brandy Alexander: The Great One, where the dancers were ready to conquer the CHARTS stage. Inspired by the era around Alexander the Great, the dancers marched and twirled in golden hued outfits letting the audience know they were ready for us.

Donned in pink, Shirley Temple (MacKenzie Fey) hip hops her way across the stage complete with sassy star quality attitude and playing with her frilly pink tutu. 
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Andres Neira handles the tablecloth like a pro in Cin Cin: A Toast to Love.
Claire Mazza takes her dog on a walk in Manhattan: On the Avenue. Gliding across the stage, she floats from one end to the other with ease.  (photo above left)
Dorothea Garland commands the stage and the men around her (Nickemil Concepcion, Andres Neira, Alejandro Ulloa) during Martini: James Bond’s Choice.  (photo above right)
My favorite of the small group numbers was Roy Rogers: Rope-a-Dope where Jennifer Buonamia masters the whip while Nickemil Concepcion stood his ground. 
Margaret Hoshor tears at your heart as she pines for her long-lost love in Gimlet: Nightcap. 
Super cute Tori Hey was spunky in Sputnik: Sour Grapes (pictured below center). This was one of my plus one’s favorites of the solo numbers. He liked the quirkiness of the piece.
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Probably the most beautiful of the group numbers was Champagne: Blanc de Blanc (pictured above left), which featured Claire Mazza and Alejandro Ulloa. The dresses were flowy, and the partnering was elegant. Even we knew they were representing bubbles. It was beautiful. 
After intermission, their Mirage section started with a western flair with La Paloma: Dove Tales and Ranchwater: Crack Shot (photo above right).
Double Vision: Checkmate had Claire Mazza and Alejandro Ulloa paired against each other, and Andres Neira was stealing the world in Smooth Criminal: Crime Pays With Interest.
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I was really excited for Bloody Mary: Royal Pain (Margaret Hoshor), because I do love a good bad guy—or girl in this case. She was regal with a big attitude. It was everything you would expect from an evil Queen. (Photo above left)
To finish out the program, the whole cast came together for Hot Toddy: Flappers and Swells. Dressed in their 1920s costumes, they quickly told the story of the good times gone crazy with a little stealing and swindling and fighting with the law. It was a great finale and left you wanting more. (Photo above right)

Music master Stephen Gaboury created so many fascinating miniature soundtracks to go with each scene. Though there were jazzy undertones with most of the segments, the snippets ranged from classical to blues to quirky melodies and so many other lyrical movements to complement the dances.    

The costumes occasionally stole the scene at times. Created by Catherine Zehr, the various outfits were visually stunning and enhanced the show to even greater heights.

On Friday, Jennifer Buonamia visited North Little Rock High School Theatre Dance III-IV students to teach a masterclass. “Jennifer was an incredible teacher and was kind and encouraging with the dancers,” NLRHS Dance Teacher Christen Pitts said. The dancers had a wonderful time and were challenged and nurtured in the master class.”

Up next, BALLETS WITH A TWIST will be at The Imperial Theatre in Augusta, Georgia, Saturday, Oct. 28.

Dancers for BALLETS WITH A TWIST: Jennifer Buonamia, MacKenzie Fey, Dorothea Garland, Tori Hey, Margaret Hoshor, Sara Jumper, Minnie Lane, Claire Mazza, Cassandra Punzo, Elizabeth Andrews Szendrody, Nickemil Concepcion, Jeremy Gruner, Andres Neira, Morgan Stinnett, Alejandro Ulloa.  

Broadway World would like to thank Nico Malvaldi for the use of these beautiful photos. For more from this artist, check out the website at

Your local alternative news source is a member of the Georgia Press Association.

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Cocktails inspire Ballets with a Twist performance at

Imperial Theatre Oct. 28

October 18, 2023    Charmain Z. Brackett    Comment
(Featured photo Shirley Temple from Cocktail Hour: The Show. Photo by Nico Malvaldi, Courtesy Ballets with a Twist)
With a name like Ballets with a Twist, a New York-based dance company is sure to offer dance aficionados something different from a traditional ballet performance.
The company’s signature production is Cocktail Hour: The Show with dances inspired by cocktails and spirits.

The standard performance pays homage to Champagne with “eight satin dolls, a touch of tango and a sliver of fresh Ginger Rogers” and the Hot Toddy with “six high rollers, three party crashers, one hilarious heist” all ‘mixed with mayhem,” according to the group’s website.

But when the company makes its return to the Imperial Theatre stage at 7 p.m. Oct. 28, the cocktails will feature a spooky theme with its new Halloween inspired program. Sci-fi Zombie and a wicked Bloody Mary will shake the repertoire up.
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Marilyn Klaus formed Ballets with a Twist in 1996. Over the next two decades, “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,” according to the ballet company’s website.

Cocktail Hour: The Show debuted in 2009, and Ballets with a Twist performed at the Imperial Theatre in 2018 in honor of the theater’s centennial.

Patrons can join in the fun by donning costumes when attending the performance. Throughout the evening, a special selection of cocktails and mocktails complementing the program will be available in the lobby. Tickets to the show are $20-$45.
The performance is just the beginning. VIP patrons can dance over to the after party at Edgar’s Above Broad, where they can meet the dancers. VIP tickets are $25.
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