BWW Interview: Marilyn Klaus of BALLETS WITH A TWIST at Avenel PAC from 8/1 to 8/4
This August, as part of its inaugural season, the Avenel Performing Arts Center presents Cocktail Hour: The Show, by New York City-based company, Ballets with a Twist. Created by artistic director and choreographer Marilyn Klaus, Cocktail Hour: The Show reinvents the glamour and excitement of classic entertainment with an original mix of charismatic choreography, intoxicating music and exquisite costume design. This pop-infused performing arts experience combines the magnetism of Hollywood's Golden Age with a sleek twenty-first-century sensibility, capturing the timeless American spirit in a series of witty, sparkling vignettes. It's high-style fun for all ages to enjoy.
Program highlights include: "Hot Toddy" (a premiere) - Are these cats on the level or on the lam? Mayhem reigns supreme in this a red-hot rollick through the Roaring Twenties; "Martini" - A dangerous, percussive score sets the stage for this blonde bombshell super-spy, who a??dodges sharpshooters and stays cool in hot situations; and "Cuba Libre" - Sparks fly on a hot Havana night when rum and cola collide.
Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Ballets with a Twist's Artistic Director and Choreographer, Marilyn Klaus about the company and the upcoming show.
Klaus, whose choreography has been seen internationally, formed Ballets with a Twist in association with Grammy-nominated composer Stephen Gaboury and costume designer Catherine Zehr. Her company - lauded by The Huffington Post for "blasting the boundaries between high art and entertainment" - has appeared in a wide range of venues throughout the country, from Cleveland's Playhouse Square and New York City's Beacon Theatre to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Ballets with a Twist is such a creative concept. How did it all start?
When I first began choreographing dances for Ballets with a Twist, I knew I was creating cocktails, but I had no clue it was all building up to an evening-length production. It was our costume designer who really lit a fire, pushing me to turn the growing collection of dancing drinks into something more. Cocktail Hour: The Show had its official premiere in November 2009, and we've never looked back.
How has the company progressed since its inception?
Every year, we come up with one or two new pieces, each of which features groovy music by composer Stephen Gaboury and gorgeous costumes by Catherine Zehr. The process is a lot like actual mixology, except that we start with absolutely nothing. Then we add and subtract and test different elements until we arrive at the right flavor. At some point, the cocktails take on a life of their own!
What have been some of the exciting spaces and places that the company has performed?
We've performed at venues and events all over New York City, including several nightclubs, Lincoln Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Beacon Theatre. In addition, we've toured to theaters throughout the country, and have partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue on engagements at various locations. Amazing things often arise from our adventures in atypical places. Our lighting design, for instance, wouldn't have become as wonderfully outrageous as it is today if it weren't for our nightclub shows.
Why is Ballets with a Twist unique in the world of dance?
We're always aiming to draw viewers in - to make them feel that they're traveling through cultural times and places with us; that they're in on our jokes; that they're falling in love with our characters. Our audiences are very much a part of the performance experience for us, and we want them to walk away with that same feeling.
Tell us a little about your current company of dancers.
We currently have an international company of dancers who have trained and performed all over the country and the world. It's exciting to go into the studio with artists who have such diverse backgrounds because they bring my work to places I couldn't have conjured up on my own. I never know where the movement comes from anymore!
We are excited that you will be performing in the new Avenel PAC. What can NJ audiences expect from the show?
First and foremost, they can expect the unexpected. Sometimes, even I surprise myself when I'm creating a new dance or putting together a new program - and this engagement is no exception. Not only are we premiering two new dances, but we're also offering two slightly different cocktail line-ups over the course of our five-day run. To top it all off, we will be partnering with Curtains Bar and Restaurant (located within the performing arts center) on a special menu to complement our show. It will be quite an entertaining experience.
Can you share some of your future plans?
Our upcoming season will take us all over the country. We'll be in Illinois in September, and then it's on to Wyoming in October. Destinations further along in the season include Florida, Texas, and Upstate New York. And before we hit the road, we'll be performing at Astor Place, in NYC, during the Department of Transportation's annual Summer Streets program.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.
We just launched our new trailer for the 2019-20 season, so if you want to get a taste of what we're all about, check it out: https://www.balletswithatwist.com/cockatil-hour-trailer
To learn more about Ballets with a Twist, please visit https://www.balletswithatwist.com/.
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Throughout the evening, beer, wine, and a special selection of cocktails and mocktails from the program will be available.
The five-performance summer run of Cocktail Hour: The Show at Avenel PAC will feature two different program line-ups on the following dates: Thursday, August 1, at 8pm Friday, August 2, at 8pm Saturday, August 3, at 2pm and 8pm Sunday, August 4, at 3pm.Tickets are $39.50. Discounts are available for seniors, active military, and groups of 10 or more. To purchase, go to https://avenelarts.com/, call 732-314-0500, or visit the box office at 150 Avenel Street, Avenel, NJ.
Photo Credit: Nico Malvaldi