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After 21 Years, Mireille Hassenboehler Is Bowing Out in Style

Mireille Hassenboehler dances her last waltz as the Merry Widow.

Danilo serenades Hanna while Valencienne vacillates between the man of her desires and the man she gave herself to in matrimony. In an iconic moment, the two pairs of lovers mirror each other with the women pressed up fully into the air. The couples revolve around each other with Hanna and Valencienne interlocking arms. The Ambassador looks on in longing, perhaps wishing he were a younger man, but despite his rightful claims, he allows his wife the companionship of her lover. It's a heartbreaking image, but it comes from one of experience, as a man his age knows all too well what every character onstage and every member of the audience understands: The heart wants what the heart wants.

Mireille Hassenboehler
Amitava Sarkar
Mireille Hassenboehler

Details

The Merry Widow

7:30 p.m. on September 27 and 28 and 2 p.m. on September 28 and 29 at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. Call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org.

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The Merry Widow is a light confection with plenty of heart and even more comic mischief. But the ballet isn't a screwball of caricature and cheap frills. Hassenboehler's rendering of the complex Hanna and Linnar Looris's nuanced realization of the contemplative Danilo give the narrative an emotional weight that makes the ballet fully edifying. Lovely dancing, heartfelt partnering and enchanting design work — now that's a champagne toast I can raise my glass to.

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