"NINE SINATRA SONGS," Ballet West, Capitol Theatre, Friday; additional performances through April 26 (355-2787)

Bravi, Ballet West. Bravi.

You were able to take Twila Tharp's "Nine Sinatra Songs" Friday night and make it your own.

Your dancers were elegant in their evening attire and took the sometimes acrobatic and humorous choreography and added your own charm and poise.

Above all, however, your dancers adjusted to the ballroom-dance shoes and heels and brought the house down.

Still, the evening's bar was high from the upstart.

When your dancers took the stage for George Balanchine's "Serenade," the audience members knew they were in for a treat. And with Balanchine's trademark contemporary form, the classically inspired piece was a joy to watch.

From the corps de ballet to the soloists, who worked together in a pas de deux, a pas de trois and a momentary pas de quatre, each step was precise and full of life. Adding to the movements were the wispy costumes that gave abstract arc-lines to the already long extensions and movements.

Christopher Ruud and Annie Breneman took on the angst-filled drama of Val Caniparoli's "Hamlet and Ophelia Pas de Deux." The juxtaposition of Ruud's jarring and angry Hamlet and Breneman's frustrated and compassionate Ophelia emerged through this gloriously dark and tragic work.

A warm welcome back was given to former artistic director Bruce Marks through applause as he watched his work "Continuo" from the Capitol Theatre seats.

His work, which had its world premiere back in 1981, was a study of your men's strength and accuracy.

Moving as one, the dancers presented the strong and nimble-footed creation. Highlighted by Utah Chamber Orchestra's acting principal trumpeter Lisa Verzella (who played an equally demanding score), the dancers took the stage quietly and, by the end, exploded into a dance of joy.

With each selection throughout the evening, the dancers raised the audience's expectations. And by the final curtain call, the audience members were on their feet.

Bravi, Ballet West. Bravi.

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