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American Ballet Theatre
Photo by Gene Schiavone.

It's been 17 years since the patter of American Ballet Theatre pointe shoes last graced a Chicago stage, and for its long-awaited return engagement at the Auditorium Theatre, the world-renowned company has chosen a work designed to appeal to dance aficionados of all stripes: the 19th-century classic Giselle, about a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart and goes on to save her beloved's life from beyond the grave.

With its magical sets, ethereal costumes and tear-jerking plotline, the production (tonight through Sunday; tickets $32 to $127) is an unabashed leap into the kind of lavish artistry that hooks girls at a young age and keeps them misty-eyed through a lifetime of ballet fandom. (The Paris Opera Ballet will also present Giselle during its June run at the Harris Theater; get tickets to both versions for the ultimate ballet compare-and-contrast.)

ABT may have been a Chicago no-show for nearly two decades, but it's already signed on to return to the Auditorium in 2014 and 2016: Sounds like someone's craving a Windy City-style curtain call.

American Ballet Theatre at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Pkwy.; 800-982-2787 or ticketmaster.com/auditorium

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