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Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre season closer caps 15-year run, pays tribute to Armenians

An upcoming production staged by Burbank-based Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre will be an emotional event for many involved with the performance.

“The Best of Khachaturian,” a medley of dance pieces set to the music of famed Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, will be performed at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Artistic director Natasha Middleton and Ruben Tonoyan co-choreographed most of the pieces, which will include the dances from “Gayane” — “Sabre Dance” and “Lezginka” — as well as selections from the ballets “Spartacus” and “Masquerade.”

The performance is significant on different levels for Middleton, who was a dancer with the ballet company back when her father Andrei Tremaine was the head of what was then the Pacific Ballet Theatre.

This Sunday will wrap up the 15th season for the Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre under Middleton’s direction. She has made it her mission to continue what her father, who was a dancer with the famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and her grandmother Elena Wortova, who danced for the influential Ballets Russes, established over the last century.

“We are keeping in the tradition of the Ballet Russe and that Russian feeling, so I tend to get more elite dancers because of the types of dances we do,” Middleton said.

Sunday not only caps the end to an impressive run, but it will also serve as Middleton and the ballet company’s tribute to those impacted by the Armenian Genocide.

As she was thinking about what she wanted to do to end the 15th season, Middleton said she watched the movie “The Promise,” a drama about the genocide that happened over a century ago, and she felt compelled to be a part of the campaign to make people more aware of the atrocity.

Her way of bringing awareness about the genocide resulted in an original ballet she calls “Remember,” which is set to parts of Khachaturian’s “Cello Concerto in E minor.”

“We just want to keep the awareness going all the time,” Middleton said.

Armenian husband-and-wife duo Eduard Sargsyan and Inga Demetryan, who are performing in “Spartacus,” said they were happy to see that Middleton went out of her way to create an original piece to bring light to the Armenian Genocide.

They have yet to see any of the choreography that Middleton has developed, but the couple said they will be backstage watching the dance piece.

“It’s a very sad thing to talk about, and it always stays in our hearts even though it’s been more than 100 years,” Demetryan said. “We always remember, and we never forget about it and, for us, it’s a big thing for us to participate in this show to pay our respect in our way.”

For more information or to buy tickets, visit alextheatre.org or call the theater’s box office at (818) 243-2539. Tickets are also on sale at the concierge desk at the Americana At Brand and the auditorium box office at Glendale Community College.

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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