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Evening of Ballet Stars 2

Sterling Baca and Nayara Lopes

Photo by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory

If you’re a dance fan, nothing could be better than the opportunity to experience some of the finest current practitioners of the art performing on the same stage. And Dance St. Louis has just the event for you.

“An Evening of Ballet Stars 2,” to be presented Saturday at the Edison Theatre, follows up on last year’s sold-out event. And the sequel promises to be just as captivating as the original.

This time, the program featuring principal dancers from notable companies includes Katherine Barkman and Gian Carlo Perez of the Washington Ballet; Christine Rocas and Dylan Gutierrez of the Joffrey Ballet; Nayara Lopes and Sterling Baca of Pennsylvania Ballet; and Adiarys Almeida (formerly with National Ballet of Cuba) with Taras Domitro of San Francisco Ballet.

Baca and Lopes, who are partners in private as well as professional life, were both among Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2016. The Brazilian-born Lopes, formerly with Dance Theatre of Harlem, was praised for her “uncanny sense of balance” and “spellbinding stage presence.” Colorado native Baca, formerly with American Ballet Theatre, was cited for his “expansiveness and self-confidence.”

Lopes says she became interested in dance as a child.

“My sister started dancing, and I thought it was a little bit boring,” she says. “But then one time I tried, and then I kept dancing.”

Baca came to dance as an offshoot of his interest in athletics and musical theater: “For me, those two things came together in dance.”

At the Edison, Baca and Lopes will perform two pieces: choreographer George Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux,” which Baca says “is considered one of the most difficult classical pas de deuxs there is,” and Telmo Moreira’s “La Danse.”

Although dancers often spend a lot of time with one another because of the demands of their profession, romantic couples are actually rare, Baca says. And he and Lopes have each established reputations on their own.

“We’ve danced together, but not necessarily because we’re a couple,” he says. “We also perform with other people.” Baca has appeared opposite top dancers including Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about dance, he says, is the notion that it’s not a career.

“A lot of people think it’s a hobby,” Baca says. “When I say I’m a principal dancer at Pennsylvania Ballet, they say, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. So what’s your job?’”

On the other hand, a successful dance career comes with perks that the average 9-to-5er would envy, Lopes says.

“You get to see the world, you get to do what you love, and you get to meet people from different cultures,” she says.

In addition to the performances, St. Louis Ballet artistic director Gen Horiuchi will be honored with the 2019 Annelise Mertz Visionary Award in Dance. The award recognizes the lifetime achievement of an artist in professional dance.

The 2019-20 Dance St. Louis season will continue with “Riverdance: New 25th Anniversary Show” (Feb. 14-16 at the Fox Theatre), “Ailey II: The Next Generation of Dance” (Feb. 22 at Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center), “Diavolo: Architecture in Motion” (April 11 at the Touhill) and “Spring to Dance Festival 2020” (May 21-23 at the Touhill).

What “An Evening of Ballet Stars 2” • When 7:30 p.m. Saturday • Where Washington University’s Edison Theatre, 6465 Forsyth Boulevard • How much $55 • More info dancestlouis.org