Heather King – Guest Contributor
Mar 13 @ 3:12 pm
A Celebration of Dance



Central Standard Time



Irving Arts Center
3333 North MacArthur Blvd.
Irving, Texas 75062

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Napoli Photo by Cathy Vanover

The mixed repertoire performances are Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 North MacArthur Blvd.  Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for students/seniors and can be purchased by calling the Irving Arts Center box office at 972-252-2787 (ARTS) or at


“The performance is designed to be entertaining and educational as it includes choreography spanning more than 200 years,” said Ballet Ensemble of Texas

Artistic Director Thom Clower. “The evening includes classical, neo-classical, contemporary, and comedy all in one energetic program.”


The performance opens with Festive Overture, originally choregraphed by the Ballet Ensemble of Texas’ founding director, Lisa Slagle, for the 2008 Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival.  The lively neoclassical ballet has music by Dmitri Shostakovich and is performed by 16 classically-dressed dancers featuring the superb classical training of the company.


Next on the program is the world premiere of Unity, a contemporary piece created by BET resident choreographer Tammie Reinsch. Known for her exceptionally creative choreography, Ms. Reinsch showcases the dancers’ unity as a group and everything it represents: overall camaraderie, respect, trust, and what it means to be an artist. Ms. Reinsch is using bamboo rain sticks to support the percussion score.


World renowned choreographer Peter Anastos is the guest choreographer for the next performance, Night Crawlers.  It is an updated version of one of his most famous ballets, Yes Virginia, Another Piano Ballet, and is a laugh-out-loud comedy of errors.  The ballet features brilliantly choregraphed physical comedy and highlights what can go wrong for dancers in a ballet.  A pianist will be featured on stage playing the Chopin music.


“The biggest challenge with performing comedy is playing it straight for laughs,” said Clower.  “Peter is adamant that the choreography be funny, instead of the dancers trying to be funny. That’s what makes this ballet so wonderful.”   


The final performance of the evening is Act III of Napoli (or the Fisherman and His Bride).  The full-length Napoli ballet was created in 1842 for the Royal Danish Ballet by international choreographer August Bournonville and tells the story of Teresina, a young Italian girl who falls in love with Gennaro, a fisherman.  Act III includes the famous pas de six and the Tarantella, which was the musical inspiration for the ballet. Many ballet historians consider Napoli to be Bournonville's signature work.


A Celebration of Dance is Thom Clower’s second production with Ballet Ensemble of Texas since joining the company as artistic director in August 2018.  Clower’s career spans more than 40 years as a professional dancer and master teacher. He performed eleven seasons with Dallas Ballet, served as artistic director of Ballet Dallas for eight seasons, ballet master for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and artistic director of Yuma Ballet Theatre in Arizona. Since 2001, Clower has worked around the world as a master teacher and choreographer.


A Celebration of Dance is supported by The Texas Commission on the Arts, the City of Coppell and The City of Irving through the Irving Arts Board. 


The Ballet Ensemble of Texas is the resident ballet company of Coppell-based Ballet Academy of Texas (BAT). Under the direction of Lisa Slagle, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer, BAT has produced some of the country’s best trained dancers that have gone on to be professionals with leading companies such as American Ballet Theater, Ballet West, Houston Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, and many international companies.