What: Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra Dance Mix

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 23

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 1300 7th St.

Information: (940) 723-6202 or WFSO.org.


The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra’s Dance Mix program with the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre began with WFSO Conductor and Music Director Fouad Fakhouri programming music that related to dance.

“As we were brainstorming,” Fakhouri said, “the symphony office suggested we ask the Ballet Theatre to collaborate with us. We set up a meeting and that’s how it happened. I wished I could claim that I had that idea,” he said with a laugh, “but I am very glad that it happened.”

The WFSO Dance Mix program will open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Feb. 23 at Memorial Auditorium and will feature dancers from the WFBT.

There will be 15 dancers performing to 3 of the evenings 6 musical pieces. “I am excited about that collaboration and the concert.”

He has since worked with dancers numerous times in terms of traditional ballet such as Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, and the maestro enjoys modern as well.

The evening will open with a short 2-minute piece by Verdi from the opera “Aida” called “Dance of the Little Moorish Slaves.” “It’s taken from a large section in opera, where there are dancers and the action stops and there is one dance after another.

“It’s a pretty upbeat piece,” he said.

Next is Bizet’s “Carmen Suite #1,” an opera, he said, which part has since been choreographed for dance.

Four dancers from the ballet will join the WFSO on “Carmen,” said Mischic Liberatore, artistic director for the WFBT. “It has very much as a Spanish flair,” she said and there will be 4 dancers in point shows over the 12 minute piece.  

The dance program will continue with Khachaturian’s “Gayane Ballet.” “Khachaturian is a composer I really, really like,” Fakhouri said. “He’s less known in the United States. He was Armenian and lived during the Soviet era.

“His music is really authentic. You cannot hear it and not think it’s not Khachaturian. ‘Gayane Ballet” is one of those ballets where every single section is well known, famous or utterly beautiful, but it’s not done often.

Fakhouri said that he wanted to expose his audience to the composer. “It will be familiar on the one hand, but it will also be new for many of them, but accessible.”

 The next piece, Copland’s “Hoe-down” from “Rodeo” is a piece everyone knows, he said, and the WFBT will perform in cowboy boots, point shoes and western gear, said Liberatore. “It’s like the big party that’s part of our ‘Western Ballet.”

The Symphony will then perform two pieces of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” No. 6 and No. 8. They are very short, about 4 or 5 minutes each, and are part of the symphonic repertoire, he said.

The evening concludes with Bernstein’s 23 minute “West Side Story-Symphonic Dances,” which the WFBT dancers will come in and out of during the performance. “It will be more of that Jerome Robbins’ (the movie choreographer) contemporary jazzy feeling with a little bit of ballet mixed in,” said Liberatore. 

“Who hasn’t seen West Side Story,’ the iconic American story, which is basically ‘Romeo and Juliet’ reimagined on the west side of New York City,” asked Fakhouri.

“It’s a fantastic piece and a great arrangement. The most famous part is ‘The Mambo’ where the word ‘Mambo’ is yelled out in the middle. Bernstein really never intended for this arrangement for symphony orchestra to be danced to,” he said.

Fakhouri said this program was such an excellent opportunity to partner with another arts organization in Wichita Falls and to showcase both of their talents. “Our symphony musicians and their dancers – it’s a win win for all of us in terms of the arts.”

The last time for the WFSO to partner with the Ballet, said Symphony Executive Director Sherry Ransom, was three years ago when several members of the Ballet danced the “Nutcracker” as part of the WFSO’s Christmas concert.