Paris Rouge' features classical ballet, modern dance in time for Valentine's Day

After some behind-the-scenes reorganization last year, Oklahoma City Ballet starts 2009 strong with "Paris Rouge," a night of three very different ballets with romantic themes.

Director Robert Mills put together a diverse lineup with the hopes of changing many people's perceptions of ballet.

"It's not all tutus and classical music," Mills said.

Friday and Saturday's show will start off with a true classical ballet, "Les Sylphides," a number with music by Chopin, before moving on to the world premiere of a new ballet by award-winning choreographer Amy Seiwert.

"This new piece was commissioned by Oklahoma City Ballet and is very 2009 with movement that's extremely contemporary and athletic, and at times really quirky," Mills said. "There's a stigma that it's going to be stale and that it's going to be boring, and I think people will be surprised, because it is not that at all. In a state that appreciates the fine athletes that we have on our teams, I really think that people will appreciate the sheer athleticism of what our dancers do."

The last ballet of the evening will be "Paris Rouge," a fun, colorful piece with beautiful sets and costumes accompanied by the music of Jacques Offenbach.

"It's a romantic comedy about star-crossed lovers that all converge at a night club in early 1900s Paris," Mills said. "Throughout the course of this one evening, they all try on different people. There are rivalries and fights, and at the end of the night, they all end up with the person that they were meant to be with."

"Paris Rouge" was previously performed by Ballet Nouveau Colorado in 2006 under the name "Moulin Rouge," but the production encountered some problems while preparing for the Oklahoma City performance.

"We were contacted by the lawyer that represents the people that own the Moulin Rouge in France and they asked us not to use the name," Mills said. "It just never occurred to me to look into the copyrights on the name 'Moulin Rouge,' because it's an actual place and it's been around for a hundred years. They have performances and a touring group that tours around Europe. They were concerned about confusion between their show and my show."

The experience has actually bolstered Mills.

"What's great is this tells me that even in a short amount of time, what a visible organization we've become already, that we're on the radar of someone across the world," he said.

Mills hopes to capitalize on Valentine's Day to draw in couples looking for a night full of great art, romance and fun.

"That was the idea: Go downtown. Have a great dinner and go see the ballet," he said. "It's going to be a great show." 

"?Eric Webb

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