BalletMet's 40th season starts Friday, Aug. 25, and it will be the final performance of this year's Rhythm on the River program.

It marks the 21st year BalletMet and Columbus Recreation and Parks have showcased an evening of dance.

The performance starts at 8 p.m. on the Bicentennial Park stage downtown. Food and beverages will be available for purchase starting at 6:30 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Edwaard Liang, artistic director for BalletMet, said there will be roughly 70 performers from the full dance company, BalletMet II, BalletMet Dance Academy, Columbus Children's Theatre and the Ohio State University Department of Dance.

"This is a huge celebration for BalletMet," Liang said.

"They're awesome," he said of the crowds at the outdoor performances.

"This is exactly what we love because at BalletMet, we're totally energized to be part of the community," Liang said. "There are lot of outdoor performances all over the United States, but getting 6,000 people together is really exciting for us."

The show will offer excerpts and iconic moments from the company's 2017-18 season.

BalletMet will showcase both classical and contemporary works from "Parallel Connections," "Dorothy and the Prince of Oz" and "The Nutcracker," among others.

BalletMet's second performance of the year is slated for Oct. 21-22 in the Ohio State University Wexner Center for the Arts. The upcoming season will offer company and world premieres and will feature cutting-edge works from choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Jerome Robbins, Andrea Schermoly and Liang.

Lynette Shy, spokeswoman for BalletMet, said the outdoor performance has become a welcome tradition.

"It's just a great chance for the community and BalletMet to be together in a nice, relaxed environment to watch ballet," Shy said.

"It's also a great introduction for people who haven't been to the ballet before to experience the ballet outdoors."

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