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Sir Elton John wasn't in the audience, but his entourage certainly adored the world premiere of a lavish ballet based on his life and music.

Alberta Ballet artistic director Jean Grand-Maître admitted his knees were shaking before the curtain opened in Calgary on Love Lies Bleeding, set to songs composed by John and Bernie Taupin, but he mounted what promises to be a monster hit - and John's people seem to agree.

"It's fantastic stuff, a world-class show. I hope it goes everywhere," said John's personal manager, Mike Hewitson, who is credited with bringing together the glam rocker and Grand-Maître, and took in the performance.

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The production, which didn't shy away from John's addiction to cocaine and struggles with homosexuality, was an achievement for dance, Hewitson said. "I knew putting him together with Elton would be magic and it is total magic."

Ray Cooper, John's trusted long-time friend and percussionist, who also took in the performance, called it "inspirational" as well as a "joyous new form of music and dance."

"Jean is a genius," he said, "The ballet company is wonderful. I'm really overwhelmed by it. I can't wait to see it again."

John's schedule didn't permit the trip to Calgary, but rumour has it he will be making the trek Edmonton for a show next week.

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Dawn Walton

Dawn Walton has been based in Calgary for The Globe and Mail since 2000. Before leaving Toronto to head West, she won a National Newspaper Award and was twice nominated for the Michener Award for her work with the Report on Business. More

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