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Ballets With a Twist bellies up to the barre with 'Cocktail Hour'

"Mojito" is one of the numbers performed by

"Mojito" is one of the numbers performed by Ballet With a Twist in "Cocktail Hour: The Show" at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center. Credit: Nico Malvaldi

“Music, dancing, and cocktails.” That is how Marilyn Klaus remembers her childhood growing up near the glam and glitz of Hollywood in the late 1950s and ’60s.

“My parents were social ballroom dancers, and by the time I was 11 or 12 my dad started taking me to the clubs,” she says. They also hosted monthly Saturday night soirees in their Los Angeles living room.

Unable to shake that world after moving to New York, Klaus re-created it as the artistic director and choreographer of Ballets with a Twist. The nine-year-old dance company’s critically acclaimed signature production “Cocktail Hour: The Show,” a heady brew of ballet and beverages, makes its Long Island debut Saturday at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

“The cocktail focus is cultural, imparting the flavors and perfumes of the period,” Klaus explains, likening the dancers to actors who stir up a gamut of emotions.

“There’s something for everyone,” says Claire Mazza, a soloist who trained at the School of American Ballet and joined the company two years ago, attracted by the chance to perform the show’s intoxicating mix of styles and genres.

Mazza is featured as the old-school drink “Pink Lady,” en pointe and dressed in a vintage pink tutu with black accents — satin gloves, beading and a tulle petticoat that is revealed with the dancer’s movements — by Ballets with a Twist costume designer Catherine Zehr. In the sultry “Mojito,” a partner and two couples join Mazza in a ballroom danzón, Cuba’s elegant national dance, while in “Brandy Alexander,” the ballerina appears as part of a clan of female warriors moving to martial music by Stephen Gaboury, the Grammy-nominated composer of the company’s original scores.

Other spirited performances from the troupe’s 24-vignette menu include the rebellious rockabilly number “Sputnik,” the “Roy Rogers” mocktail of Klaus’ youth, and the James Bond-inspired “Martini” with a twist (it features a female 007). Audience members can enjoy the “Lemon Drop” as it is conceived onstage, and, if they desire, as an aperitif or chaser for the first act available at the theater’s bar.

The Latin-themed “Rumrunner” suite keeps the heat up as the show’s last call, an enticing mix for local beachgoers to imbibe. “Ballet is often seen as too highbrow,” Klaus says. “For modern viewers, the program has to be fast-paced and fun. It has a show-floor feeling that is put onstage. The dancers have to reach across the lights and pull the audience in.”  

WHAT “Cocktail Hour: The Show”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main St.

INFO $55-$70; 631-288-1500, whbpac.org

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