Monthly Archives: September 2010

Bollywood & beyond

A young dancer enjoys a class with Kriti Dance (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

I was delighted to hear recently from a dance school that specializes in Bollywood dance, which has its origins in India’s film industry. It seems I’ve been invited to participate in a dance class — just to get a feel for this “contemporary and innovative” dance form.

The website for Kriti Dance readily notes that participants have been known to giggle a bit when first experiencing the unique waist and hip movements used in Bollywood dance — but I suspect that hearty laughter might be more likely with me (and my thickening body parts) in the room.

I’m opting instead to share the happy news that Kriti Dance, which recently performed during a Phoenix Mercury halftime, will begin a new session of classes at Dance Connection 2 in Chandler on Sept 11. It’s a tough day in so many ways – so I’m pleased to share a fun and fit way to dance away part of the day.

Classes for adults and teens start at 10:30am, with classes for 9- to 13-year olds starting at 11:30am and classes for 5- to 8-year-olds starting at 12:30pm. You can visit their website to learn more — and drop me a thank you note later for the decision to leave my hips at home (for now).

Kriti Dance offers fun and fitness for all ages (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

My weekend calendar is already plenty full — driving Lizabeth to and from a community service gig, seeing The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre present a semi-staged production of “The Music Man,” and joining Lizabeth at the National Youth Theatre awards being held at Valley Youth Theatre.

Tonight we’ll be attending the first production of the 2010-2011 Southwest Shakespeare Company season at Mesa Arts Center — complete with red carpet flair and a fabulously fun photo contest. We’ll have to miss Sunday’s preview of Childsplay’s “A Year With Frog and Toad” so Lizabeth can see an ASA teacher perform in another show, but that just gives us more to look forward to next weekend.

There’s no lack of arts experiences in the Valley this weekend, so here’s a sampling of your many options to help you plan your family together time…

The Deer Valley Rock Art Center in northwest Phoenix offers half-price admisson to grandparents from 8am-2pm on Sun, Sept 12, in honor of Grandparents Day. Who’s to say that grandma won’t want to enjoy both petroglyphs and Bollywood dance in one weekend? Admit it — Bollywood dance is probably on your “bucket list” too.

Why not celebrate Grandparents Day in Bollywood style? (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

If you’re an artist eager to learn more about using technologies in art making and/or arts promotion, check out the Sept 11 STEWshop from Urban Stew. It’s one of a series of arts and technology workshops they’ll hold each second Saturday of the month between Sept 2010 and Feb 2011.

Children and their adults can enjoy making art together at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix Art Studio — which provides materials for making a special Grandparents Day gift in the studio this weekend.

Head to Chandler Center for the Arts if you love all things musical theater and musical standards. Valley favorites Rusty Ferracane and Christine Drathman will join composer/arranger Craig Bohmler and “top Valley musicians” for “That’s Life…from Sinatra to Sondheim.” (Perhaps we could persuade the trio to add a bit of Bollywood dance to the gig.)

Creative Stage Youth Theatre is eager to show off their new performing space at a free open house Sept 11 from 4-7pm at 19209 N. 83rd Ave (Ste 105) in Peoria — which is a great opportunity to learn more about their upcoming season.

When in doubt, just dance! (Photo: Daniel Friedman)

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona presents their 37th annual celebration of Mexican Independence Day with flamenco dance, folk music and children’s activities to include face painting and juggling demonstrations. Remind me to drop them a thank you note for the lovely mental image I just got of attempting to juggle while doing my Bollywood thing.

If you share my love of social justice theater, check out the work of Teatro Bravo at a “pay what you can” performance of “Manzi: The Advenures of Young Cesar Chavez” this evening at the Metropolitan Arts Theatre in Phoenix. It’s “a tale for the entire family” about the legendary advocate of farm workers’ rights — and runs through Sept 19.

So there you have it. Bollywoood and flamenco. Art and technology. Sinatra and Sondheim. If that doesn’t make you want to swivel those hips while gyrating that waist, I don’t know what will.

–Lynn

Note: Today marks the opening of the “Opera & Ballet in Cinema Series” presented by Harkins Theatres and Emerging Pictures. You’re in luck if you’re reading this in time to make it to the 11am live broadcast of “Cosi Fan Tutte” at Arrowhead Fountains 18 or Scottsdale 101 14. Visit www.harkinstheatres.com for ticket availability and pricing, and information on upcoming shows in the series. I can tell you from experience that tickets go quickly so don’t delay in deciding which of European operas and ballets presented in Hi-Definition digital projection you’d like to experience.

Coming up: Art and body image, Coupling fine arts and dual language instruction, The shape of social justice

Audition/Call for artists alert! Auditions will be held this weekend for productions of “The Nutcracker” by both Baller Etudes and Ballet Arizona. CONDER/dance is calling for submissions (from choreographers, dance filmmakers and performance artists) for the 4th annual “Breaking Ground” festival to be held Dec 10 & 11 at Tempe Center for the Arts.

The fine art of animals

Scene from Childsplay's "A Year With Frog and Toad"

I got to thinking about art with an animal theme as I was making plans to attend “A Year With Frog and Toad,” the opening production of Childsplay’s 33rd season, which runs Sept 18 to Oct 16 (Sat/Sun 1pm & 4pm) at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Turns out there are plenty of theater works for children who enjoy animals of all shapes and sizes — including another Childsplay offering (“Go, Dog, Go!”) scheduled for Jan 29-March 6 of next year, and a Phoenix Theatre Cookie Company production of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” to run Nov 19-28 at Greasepaint Theatre in Scottsdale.

The Great Arizona Puppet Theater closes its run of “Baby Bear Goes to School” on Sept 12, but has oodles of animal fare lined up for the rest of their season — including “Jack in the Beanstalk,” “Apolodo,” “Little Bunny’s Halloween,” “The Little Red Hen,” “Cinderella,” “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” “The Monkey and the Pirate,” “The Three Little Pigs” and more.

Scene from Childsplay's "Go, Dog, Go!"

I’m especially intrigued by “Apolodo” — which the puppet meisters will perform one night only, Sept 17, at 8pm. It’s based on a poem by Gellu Naum, “one of the greatest Romanian avant-garde poets.”

It’s the tale of a little penguin from a great circus in Budapest who has a full time job as a tenor and entertainer — and “is a bit of an actor on the ice rink.” Sounds like most of my multi-tasking theater friends.

Scene from Great Arizona Puppet Theater's "Apolodor"

Great Arizona Puppet Theater often presents work that increases youth appreciation for wildlife and their habitats.

In “Hotel Saguaro” (Feb 2-20, 2011), grandpa Sammy tells little Sammy about the relationship between desert animals and the saguaro cactus. With “Canyon Condor” (Feb 23-March 6) children learn about the importance of the condor and protecting its environmental niche.

I recall enjoying many a show by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater when my three children, now ages 17-21, were younger. It’s a wonderful introduction to the joys of storytelling, live theater and communal arts experiences.

"Dancing Bear" by Inuit artist Pauta Siala (from Heard Museum in Phoenix)

Many a Valley museum features animal-related arts and culture — including the Heard Museum (which has both Phoenix and North Scottsdale locations). I’m especially fond of the polar bears and other North American wildlife depicted in their “Inuit Art” collection, but visitors also can enjoy a host of other animal art from several different cultures — created in all sorts of mediums. The Heard Museum is an especially fun place to play games like “How many fish can you see in this room?” or “Can you find a wolf in this exhibit?”

Keep an eye out for animal-related art at local zoos, nature centers, animal rescue organizations and wildlife habitats. The Phoenix Zoo offers their next “Wild Art” class for 2-5 year olds at 9:30am on Sept 25. (Did you know that koalas are headed their way?) Take a sketch pad and some charcoal or colored pencils along on animal/nature adventures and create your own animal-inspired art.

"Animals and People" by Inuit artist Winnie Tatla (from Heard Museum in Phoenix)

If birds or butterflies are your thing, check the offerings at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.

Upcoming art gallery exhibits at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum include an “Art Institute Student Show” opening Oct 2 and “The World of Nature in Miniatures” opening Dec 11.

Several of the Native American petroglyphs at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center depict animals. The museum also offers an educational program called “Ollie’s Storybook Adventures” which offers “fun and interactive ways for children to learn about…plants, animals and archeology of the American southwest.”

Cat in the Hat” fans (of all ages) can now enjoy a new television series on PBS. “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That,” which first aired on Monday, introduces young children to the wonders of science and the natural world. Comedy lovers may be especially delighted with the choice of actors to voice the role of the Cat — Martin Short (featured just last season at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts).

"Raptors of Arizona" opens Sept 11 at the ASDM Art Institute (Pictured is Richard Sloan's "Harris' Hawk")

Movie buffs who love animal fare can look for a 3-D film about two wolves named Kate and Humphrey opening soon in theaters Valleywide. “Alpha and Omega” also features angry bears, prickly porcupines and a golfing goose with a duck for a caddy.

Remember too that museum gift shops often offer unique animal-related gifts like the mouse-shaped cheese grater I recently picked up at the Phoenix Art Museum gift shop for a certain pasta-lover at our house. I also found a fanciful stuffed animal (a “Deglingos” offering called “Pikos the Hedgehog”) at the Phoenix Art Museum online shop. Alas — I have so far been unsuccessful in landing the rare “Mr. Pricklepants” of thespian and “Toy Story 3″ fame.

Mireya Mayor (photo by Mark Thiessen) comes to the MAC in 2011

Finally, you can enjoy any or all of four “National Geographic Live!” events coming to Mesa Arts Center this season. The first, featuring “Ocean Adventures” with Jean-Michel Cousteau, takes place Oct 20. The final event in the series this season  (March 23, 2011) will feature Mireya Mayor — pictured above with a new lemur species she discovered.

If your organization or venue offers visual or performing arts with an animal theme, please comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Kennedy Center tour hits Higley

Note: Higley Center for the Performing Arts presents a rare treat on Nov 16 for school children pre-K to 1st grade — the touring production of “Knuffle Bunny, A Cautionary Musical” presented by Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences. Reservations are required.

Coming up: Sampling of symphonies, A weekend of “Bollywood & beyond”

Here are the answers to trivia questions posed in a recent “Laugh Your Brass Off” post about this weekend’s production of “The Music Man” with The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre: “The Music Man” received the 1958 Tony Award for “Best Musical” nominated alongside “New Girl in Town,” “Oh, Captain!,” “Jamaica,” and “West Side Story.” Actors who have performed the role of Winthrop Paroo on stage or screen include Ron (then “Ronnie”) Howard, Eddie Hodges, Cameron Monaghan and Christian Slater.

Musings on International Literacy Day

We take so many things for granted as Americans — ready access to water, vast choices in fresh foods, stable shelters and structures. We’ve got gaggles of electronic gizmos and more books than we ever bother to read.

It’s a shame, really, when you consider how rare things like books and bathrooms are in so many other countries. (And even — as one of my daughters recently reminded me — for American children living in desperate poverty.)

I’ve heard many a news report in recent days on misguided plans to burn one particular book (a book with great cultural and religious significance) — but nothing, literally, about today’s designation as “International Literacy Day.”

Imagine, if you will, a world without books.

It’s a world without education, civil discourse, political stability.

Books are the very fiber of our being — taking us on journeys to places we’ve never been before, introducing us to new worlds and wonders, posing thoughtful questions about the nature of humanity — helping us feel more, think more, do more. Even be more.

Think back on some of the books that have touched your life — maybe a family heirloom handed down from generation to generation, maybe books your parents read with you as a child, maybe books you enjoy reading with your own children.

Pause today to honor those books that have touched — even changed — your life. Made you a better parent. Helped you succeed in school or business. Taught you to appreciate other people and places.

If books have slipped from the pages of your busy life, bring them back today. Visit a library. Read with your child. Volunteer to tutor students in reading. Sign up to help at an adult literacy center. Read the books of local and international authors. Maybe even write your own book.

Whether books — and the people who depend on them — survive and thrive, is really up to you.

–Lynn

Note: Watch for a future post on the interplay of literacy and the arts — and ways the arts can help make reading more enjoyable for the whole family

Thanks to Christopher Trimble for the graphic  a la Photoshop crafted with a collection of book covers, buttons and magnets

Laugh your brass off!

Something tells me I’ll be laughing my brass off this weekend when The Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre present a joint production of “The Music Man” at Phoenix Symphony Hall.

Original poster for "The Music Man" on Broadway

“The Music Man,” featuring book, music and lyric by Meredith Wilson, is a charming musical fit for the whole family that follows the shenanigans of a traveling saleman who sells musical instruments and claims he can train students to play them using only the “think system.” (Does this work for homework or housework?)

I’ve seen countless productions of “The Music Man” — but this will be my first time hearing a symphony perform songs like “(Ya Got) Trouble,” “Seventy-six Trombones” and “Shipoopi” as part of a “semi-staged co-production.”

“The Music Man” opened on Broadway in 1957, winning five Tony Awards including “Best Musical.” The original cast recording won the 1958 Grammy Award for “Best Original Cast Album.” Its original Broadway run lasted for 1,375 performances.

"The Music Man" is a popular school production

It’s a classic piece of musical theater, an art form that originated right here in the United States of America, and this weekend presents a rare opportunity for families to enjoy a live performance presented by some of the Valley’s most gifted actors and musicians.

I’ve been enjoying musical theater and symphonic music with my children for well over a decade now — and my favorite productions have always been those that inspire us to explore our own identities and the world around us long after the curtain has drawn to a close.

Families who see “The Music Man” this weekend will have plenty to talk and wonder about together. How have brass instruments evolved through the years? Are there perils to having too much idle time? How are the roles of librarians changing in society? Should a friend ever refuse to keep another friend’s confidences? How do modern day con men lure and manipulate others?

“The Music Man” is based on a story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacey that features the fictional “River City” inspired by Wilson’s hometown of Mason City, Iowa. Today tourists still visit “The Music Man Square” to see both Wilson’s boyhood home and the museum that honors his best-known work.

"The Music Man" has both original and revival cast recordings

Wilson was born in Mason City in 1902, and grew up in a family that often sang together as mom Rosalie, a music teacher, played the piano. He moved to New York to study music at age 17, eventually playing with the John Philip Sousa band (think marches and patriotic tunes) and the New York Philharmonic.

He began conducting and composing in his late 20s, taking more than five years to write “The Music Man.” How lovely that it continues to be performed and appreciated today. And better still that it’s the perfect excuse to simply laugh your brass off.

If hearing The Phoenix Symphony perform “Seventy-six Trombones” leaves you longing for more brass, you’ll have plenty of options. Who knew there’s actually an online trombone journal or an international trombone association?

Resources closer to home include our local community colleges and state universities — which often present musical performances that are free and open to the public. You can hit Paradise Valley Community College on Sept 17 to enjoy a faculty jazz quintet concert.

Playbill from a revival of "The Music Man'

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix features instruments from seven geographical regions — including modern and historical brass instruments. I’m a bit partial to the Germany exhibit because so many of the instruments have names that give me a good giggle.

If brass is your baby, mark at least the following two MIM Music Theater concerts on your calendar. First, the free Sept 29 (10:30am) performance by hornist John Ericson and pianist Yi-Wan Liao — with works performed on a variety of period horns. Second, the Oct 30 concert by “The Chestnut Brass Company” — a quintet that performs on modern and historical brass instruments.

Next year you can enjoy “The Music Man” presented by a partnership of Copperstar Repertory Company, Higley Community Education and the Higley Center for the Performing Arts. It’ll run Feb 18-26 (take your sweetheart to hear “‘Till There Was You”). Presenters praise the musical for affirming “the value and joy of music while communicating the importance of honesty and responsibility.”

But for now, just roll with the “laugh your brass off” riff.

–Lynn

Note: “The Music Man” is the first performance of The Phoenix Symphony’s 2010-2011 Family Series — which also features “Enchanted Fairytales” including the children’s opera “Brundibar” and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” as well as “Orchestra from Planet X” with the Magic Circle Mime Company. Thanks to support from Target Corporation, “patrons receive one free child subscription with each adult series subscription purchased.”

Coming up: All that brass, Theater fun with animals, Spotlight on storytelling, Poetry perspectives, Literacy & the arts (click here to read a great post written to honor today’s celebration of International Literacy Day)

Trivia time: Can you name at least one other musical nominated for “Best Musical” at the 1958 Tony Awards? Can you name at least one of the actors who performed the role of young Winthrop Paroo in either a stage or movie version of “The Music Man?” Comment below if you know — or get the answers in a future post…

ASU meets NYT

My husband James enjoyed a rare and simple pleasure this weekend when I left him with fresh copies of the Sunday papers so I could head out to the grocery store. It seemed the least I could do after seeing him stare at a bowl of cereal for which there was no milk.

When I returned, he handed me a lovely stack of papers that looked nothing like the pile he inherits from me most Sundays. Lopsided ads strewn about by our sometimes-frugal ASU student. Crossword puzzles ripped from arts sections so only half of most articles remain.

But most appreciated was The New York Times insert from the ASU Herberger Institute’s School of Theatre and Film – which details their 2010/2011 MainStage Season. Lizabeth and I enjoyed reviewing it together — over cereal complete with milk.

The School of Theatre and Film describes the season, which features seven plays and a student film festival, as “action-packed and innovative.” A central theme is exploring “the relationships that bind people together.”

The School’s director, Guillermo Reyes (also artistic director of the MainStage Season), says the season is “filled with contemporary and original works” focused on our relationships with “one another, our families and even our enemies.”

For those of you who missed it when we first announced the upcoming season, here’s a look at the many thoughtful works they’ll be presenting…

26 Miles by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Hudes wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” (performed last season at ASU Gammage featuring composer and lyricist Lin Manual Miranda in the role he originated on Broadway). It’s a “coming of age dramedy” in which a Cuban-American teen explores her ethnic identify while taking a road trip with her estranged mother. I’m eager to experience the work, directed by Jerry Ruiz, with an eye to issues of both borders and boundaries. October 2010.

Big Love by Charles L. Mee. Kim Weild directs “an extavagent retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history.” Picture “50 Greek sisters escaping by boat from what might be the world’s largest arranged marriage” — then imagine the tragedy, of Greek proportions, that ensues. I’ll be watching this with fond memories of my own ill-fated trip to see the tiny Greek isle of Patmos. November 2010 (contains nudity).

Allegra by Asher Wyndham. William Partian directs this MFA playwriting candidate work about a television newscaster who learns her unborn child might have Down Syndrome — then “grapples with the decision of whether to keep her unborn baby.” I suspect my experience with this work will be influenced by my many encounters with mothers, including Gina Johnson of “Sharing Down Syndrome Arizona” and Amy Silverman of “Girl in a Party Hat,” who parent children with Down Syndrome with both grit and grace. December 2010.

Dreaming Darwin by Lance Gharavi and Jacob Pinholster. This workshop production, directed by Gharavi, is a new work created when these two professors “assembled a team of ASU student artists” to explore Charles Darwin as a “fantasy on a theme.” It’s the next stage in the evolution of the work, presented last season as a staged reading. I may experience this as a sort of intersection of my three children’s interests — wildlife biology, cultural anthropology and theater arts. February 2011 (just in time to celebrate Darwin’s birthday).

A Bridge to the Stars by Henning Mankell (adapted by John Retallack). This work, a “poignant and soulful tale of a boy’s search for family, community and meaning,” is set against the “endless night” of a mythical Scandinavian village. I’ll be seeing this one with fond memories of long days and nights, as well as “northern lights,” during my childhood years in Alaska — plus college travels to cold, crisp and clean cities in Scandinavian countries. March 2011.

“The Skriker” by Caryl Churchill. This fantasy, directed by Joya Scott, “depicts a fairy underworld that has begun to bleed into our own” as a shape-shifting ghost “befriends, manipulates and attempts to control two young women.” The piece features “rich, evocative language…brought to life through movement and music.” I suspect I’ll watch this one feeling ever so grateful I’m not at home in front of a television series toying with tacky variations on similar themes. April 2011.

In the Penal Colony by Christian Krauspe. Kyle Lewis directs this adapatation of Frank Kafka’s original short story by an MFA playwriting candidate. The work explores the “the boundaries of punishment, loyalty, morality and tradition.” I’m not sure what I’ll take along when I see this work, but I don’t doubt that I’ll come away with something altogether more profound. April 2011.

Of one thing I am certain. The only thing sweeter than relaxing with a copy of The New York Times on Sunday morning is opening the paper to find more exciting news about ASU arts offerings — along with knowing I’ll be able to enjoy them firsthand as their new seasons of theater, film, music and dance unfold.

–Lynn

Note: The ASU 2010-2011 MainStage Season also includes the 6th Annual ASU Student Film Festival – taking place at the Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe April 25 and 26, 2011. The event features “the best student films produced within the school, and features a 10-minute film competition sponsored by the ASU Film Association.” To learn more about season performance locations and ticket prices, visit www.mainstage.asu.edu.

Coming up: Animal art, Laugh your brass off, Spotlight on storytelling, Conversations with Cory English about life on the road with family and “Young Frankenstein”

Truly magical

My one brief encounter with magic was a trip with an amateur magician friend to the exclusive members-only Magic Castle in Hollywood many decades ago. Television fare featuring illusionists and magicians has never been my thing, so I can’t claim to have many tricks up my sleeve on this topic.

Performers Susan Eyed & Roland Sarlot (Photo by Fotosmith USA)

I did, however, enjoy a lovely conversation recently with half of a magician/illusionist duo whose”Carnival of Illusion” show is starting a run of weekend performances at the Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park this month.

The duo of Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed, who’ve performed more than 1,ooo shows together, promises a “hip Victorian-inspired magic parlour show” perfect for ages 8 to 108. (If I make it to 108, I’ll deserve my own magic show.)

They describe the show — an homage of sorts to parlour magic once performed in the homes of the rich and famous — as a mix of mystery, magic and “oooh la la.”

I don’t know that a lot of children come out of the womb with a burning desire to make magic happen — at least not in the strictest sense of the word (that original escape trick seems plenty impressive).

So I asked Sarlot how he came to make magic his mission.

Turns out both Sarlot and Eyed are self-taught in the magic department. Sarlot was a science researcher (astronomy, physics and such) at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Eyed was into business and real estate.

One day they did a show together for a friend’s party — and the gig grew from there. “I loved magic as a kid,” recalls Sarlot. His self-professed training ground was “the road of hard knocks.”

Sarlot recalls doing more than 1,000 one-on-one magic shows for pediatric patients at University Medical Center in Tucson — and says he’s also enjoyed performing for patients at Tucson Medical Center, Maricopa County Hospital and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Sarlot & Eyed of "Carnival of Illusion"

“You never know which kid will be touched by the magic,” muses Sarlot. “We feel a great responsibility to the next generation.”

“Magic,” says Sarlot, “is one of the oldest art forms there is.”

Sarlot notes that magic — which was wrapped up for centuries in science, medicine and religion — has always been around. “It speaks to us,” he says, “as something primal.”

He’s also an advocate for literacy and other arts, including music, dance and theater — noting that most artists harken back to transformative childhood experiences in the arts. “Many performers were touched as kids by music and theater,” reflects Sarlot.

“I love theater,” says Sarlot. “Theater can transform. It makes you travel, you can be somebody else — like a good book.” Part of the magic in any performance, he muses, is the recognition by both performer and audience member that they’re experiencing moments together that will never happen in quite that same way again.

So how can kids interested in magic learn more about the craft, and ways to create their own magic?

Sarlot & Eyed work their magic (Photo by Tom Willett)

Reading is the key, shares Sarlot. There are plenty of books on magic at school and local libraries.  Which one you pick isn’t all that critical. Just make sure it’s geared for your child’s age and reading level — and run with it.

Reading about magic won’t cost you anything, observes Sarlot. And “you can interpret magic any way you want to.”

I asked Sarlot about his own role models — all magicians from the past rather than contemporaries.  Chief among them are “Fu Manchu” and “Ricciardi Jr.” (both stage names) as well as Canadian magician Doug Henning, popular in mainstream magic of the ’70s and ’80s.

Feel the Sarlot & Eyed vibe via this Artstuff poster

Sarlot says that although the entertainment aspect of magic is “dressed up in glitz,” magic is like music in that “there’s something much deeper there.”

“All humans have magic,” says Sarlot. “We all do magic. It’s just human.”

–Lynn

Note: The “Carnival of Illusion” runs Fridays and Saturdays at the Doubletree through May 31, 2011. Guests (“please no children under 8″) are encouraged to dress in “the spirit of the parlour” a la vaudeville, moulin rouge and the silent screen. Shows are intimate with just 35 patrons each, and a dinner option is available for an additional charge. Click here for ticket information.

Coming up: Valley venues for experiencing creative arts from magic and illusion to circus and acrobatic performance; Parenting lore (and more) from “Igor”

A yen for multicultural art?

We enjoyed a lovely dinner last night with our children and James’ parents, who share our penchant for Italian fare despite extensive world travels.

My only experience with Japanese food was during graduate school, when I had a roomate who often shared family recipes featuring Japanese flair.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to duplicate them — but I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to explore the culture of Japan and other countries.

Head to the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa today for a free Japanese-style celebration of Grandparents Day

So I’m excited about today’s (Sept. 5) noon to 5 p.m. “Passport to Japan: Grandparents Day” event at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa.

Admission to museum exhibits, including “Jump to Japan,” is free today (Sept 5) – and museum visitors can explore a wealth of Japanese art and culture. Think kimonos and origami. Swordsmanship and cuisine. Calligraphy and storytelling.

Here’s a look ahead to other multicultural events and experiences coming to the Valley and other parts of Arizona…

Dance

Calo Flamenco CUADRO at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts. Sept 19 (3pm; free). Features music and dance following traditional themes and elements of this folk art form. www.caloflamenco.com.

Calo Flamenco performs Sept 19 at Chandler Center for the Arts

The Power of You at ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Oct 2 (5-9pm; free). Features a thematic dance performance in the Indian classical style of Bharata Natyam by Stage Sanchar (presented by Arizona South Asians for Safe Families). www.asukerr.com.

Japanese Folk Dance at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix. Nov 15 (1pm; free with admission). Features Japanese music and folk dance. www.japanesefriendshipgarden.org.

Festivals

Celtic Harvest Festival at Tequa Plaza in Oak Creek (near Sedona). Sept 24 & 25 (hours; ticket prices vary). Features art workshops and demonstrations, music and dancing, children’s activities, and vendors selling items from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. www.celticharvestfestival.com.

Celebraciones de la Gente at the Museum of Northern Arizona. Oct 24 & 25 (9am-5pm; free with museum admission of $4 to $7). Features opportunity to learn about the traditions and culture of people from Mexico and Latin America. www.musnaz.org.

The Arizona Irish Festival at Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix. Oct 31 (10am-8pm; free). Features Celtic music and dance, along with kids’ activities. www.festival.azirish.org.

Museums

Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa. Through Oct 10 (times vary; $6.50/ages 1 & up). Features both traditional art forms and pop icons in a fun and educational exhibit. www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com.

Community Second Sunday at the Heard Museum (Phoenix and Scottsdale). Sept 12 (11am-5pm; free for Arizona residents). Features free admission to all exhibits at both Heard Museum locations (presented by Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa). www.heard.org.

Music

Spirit of Nature at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Sept 25 (7pm; $25-$30). Features acclaimed Chinese flutist Chen Tao and ‘mistress of the pipa’ Gao Hong. www.themim.org.

Gao Hong (above) performs with Chen Tao Sept 25 at the Musical Instrument Museum

A Mexican Celebration at the University of Arizona Music Building (Chowder Hall) in Tucson. Sept 25 (7:30pm; $9/general admission). www.cfa.arizona.edu/music.

Pops Adventures Around the World at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Oct 1-3 (times vary; $18-$83). Features Phoenix Symphony conducted by Jack Everly performing music from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy. www.phoenixsymphony.org.

Doc Severinsen & El Ritmo de la Vida at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Oct 14 (7:30pm; $49-$59). Features trio performing Latino music, along with the blues, played in a European style. www.sccarts.org.

Poetry

Multilingual Reading at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson. Sept 10 (8pm; free). Poets Sherwin Bitsui, Alberto Rios, Natalia Toldeo and Ofelia Zepeda read from their work. Features a chainlink of translations in Zapotec, Spanish, Tohono O’odham and Navajo. www.poetrycenter.arizona.edu.

Visual Arts

Kimono Evolution: The Japanese Character of Silk at the Phoenix Art Museum. Sept 8 (12:30pm; free with admission). Features rare opportunity to view exquisite objects from a private collection not previously displayed publicly (presented by members of the Japanese Culture Club of Arizona). www.phxart.org.

La Phoeniquera art exhibit at the Arizona Latino Arts & Culture Center in Phoenix. Through Oct 29. Features an examination of urban Phoenix by Latino artists who are experiencing the cultural changes firsthand. www.alacaz.org.

I’m always looking — so please share what you’ve found on the multicultural front in Arizona arts and culture in the comment section below.

– Lynn

Note: Many of the venues/organizations noted above offer additional multicultural fare, so please visit their websites to learn more.

Coming up: Trumpet tales, Art & animals, Poetry perspectives, Making magic in Tucson

 

Knaves, MTV & call for artists

Timing isn’t everything. But it’s pretty darn important.

So here’s a roundup of time-sensitive arts news — including calls from various local and national organizations for your participation.

First, something you wouldn’t normally expect from Mesa’s neck of the woods — a call for possible knaves to complement a cadre of wenches.

Seem the education and outreach folks for the Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa recently held auditions for their “Wenches & Knaves” program — which provides opportunities for high school students who are enthusiastic about Shakespeare (aren’t they all?).

But alas — the wenches outnumber the knaves so the search for eligible young men continues. Selected participants “will benefit from workshops with highly qualified classical actors, tickets to shows and sometimes even onstage experience,” according to Dawn Rochelle Tucker, director of education for the Southwest Shakespeare Company.

Wenches and Knaves members help SSC promote shows and sell souvenirs, represent SSC on the streets of the Valley in full Shakespearean costume and perform the Bard’s work geurilla style at festivals and other venues.

Students also work in areas of character development, text work, personal voice and improvisation. Interested boys in grades 11 and 12 can contact Sara Chambers with SSC at schambers@swshakespeare.org for audition and program information.

But make haste. The 2010/2011 season for the Southwest Shakespeare Company opens soon with “Blood Royal,” being performed at the Mesa Arts Center.

Second, news from a national organization called Americans for the Arts – which is holding a “Why Arts Matter” video contest. The winning video will be shown on the MTV screen in NYC’s Times Square, and the winner will be there to capture it on his or her new Flip UltraHD Camcorder.

Video entries can be uploaded to YouTube through Sept 24. A voting period takes place between Sept 24 and Oct 8 — with the winner will be announced on Oct 12 to kick off National Arts & Humanities Month.

Finally, a call for artists from the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts –which is seeking artists working in all media to exhibit at the 41st annual Scottsdale Arts Festival on March 11-13, 2011.

Participating artists will be selected by a jury of arts professionals who will also award prizes in several categories — including ceramic, furniture, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textiles and woodworking.

The award-winning festival displays the work of some 200 artists from throughout North America among the gardens, fountains and walkways of the Scottsdale Civic Center.

The festival attracts “tens of thousands of Scottsdale-area residents and visitors,” who also can enjoy live music, entertainment, fine food and wine, and activities for children.

Works of art can be purchased at the event or via online auction, with proceeds benefiting arts and youth education programs of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

There you have it. Now get out there and alert your favorite knaves, videographers and artists…

–Lynn

Graphics from www.cafepress.com — which offers a wide range of products perfect for gift giving

Note: If your organization is issuing a call for visual or performing artists, please add a brief comment below to share information about your opportunity with our readers

Coming up:  New and improved theater venues in the Valley, Sunday’s free “Grandparents Day: Passport to Japan” celebration at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

Update: The Arizona Jewish Theatre Company holds auditions Thursday, Sept 16, for its “All Rights Reserved Teen Improv Troupe.” Auditions begin at 7pm at Congregation Beth Israel and youth ages 13-18 can call 602-264-0402 to schedule an appointment time.

What’s your weekend style?

Maybe you’re a fan of festivals. Or marvel at all things multicultural. Or believe that reading books is best of all.

Whatever your weekend style, there’s plenty to enjoy in Arizona this Labor Day weekend — including a rich variety of arts events and experiences.

Your style: Art adventures

“Epeolatry: The Worship of Words” at the ASU Step Gallery in Tempe. Sept 3 (noon-3pm; free). National multi-media group exhibition curated by Intermedia BFA candidate Bucky Miller.

First Friday” artwalk throughout more than 70 galleries, art-related spaces and other venues. Sept 3 (6pm-10pm; free). Trollies leave Phoenix Art Museum for those who prefer to ride between venues.

Your style: Festival fare

Red Rock Music Festival” at the Sedona Creative Life Center. Sept 3-5 (times vary; youth and 3-day discounts). Music from Bach, Vivaldi, Gershwin — and plenty of Latin jazz.

Fiesta Septiembre” at the Wickenberg Community Center. Sept 4 (11am-6pm; free). Photography exhibit, folk dancing, mariachi music, arts and crafts, and kids’ activities.

Pine-Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild Craft Festival” at the Pine Community Center. Sept 4 & 5 (times vary; free). 75 artist booths, raffle and kids’ activities.

Flagstaff Art in the Park Labor Day Show” at Wheeler Park. Sept. 4-6 (times vary; free). Arts and crafts, live music, kids’ activities.

Your style: Multicultural marvels

“Multi-media photographic art of Stacie Schimke” at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix. During “First Friday” hours. Free. Enjoy a traditional Irish meal by chef Frank Hand for just $10.

The Fine Art of Fine Print: Newspaper Sculpture and Costumes” at Galeria 147-Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center in Phoenix. During “First Friday” hours. Free. Enjoy exhibit opening plus live entertainment including music, dance, painting and spoken word poetry.

Your style: Museum musings

Sandcastle Summer Send Off” at the Phoenix Art Museum. Sept 3 (6pm-10pm; free). Features live music, sandcastles, cool drinks and ice cream — plus free general admission (including “Cezanne and American Modernism” exhibition).

“Free admission” to downtown Phoenix museums on the Artlink “First Friday” map. Sept 3 (6pm-10pm). Includes Heard Museum and Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Your style: Saving solutions

Into the Woods” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Sept 3-5 (times vary). “Theater Works” is offering half-price adult tickets during Labor Day weekend.

The Foreigner” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert. Sept 3-5 (times vary). Student tickets just $10 for opening weekend with “STU” code.

Your style: Creative writing connoisseur

“First Friday Poetry” at Changing Hands Bookstore. Sept 3 (7pm; free). ASU Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing event featuring Lois Roma-Deeley.

“Curiosity Day with Curious George” at Changing Hands Bookstore. Sept 4 (10am; free). Family event celebrates 70th birthday of monkey Curious George with costume storytime, video presentation, tasty treats and fun activities.

“The Pirate of Kindergarten” at Changing Hands Bookstore. Sept 4 (noon; free). Family event features award-winning children’s illustrator Lynne Avril (her 60 + picture books include the “Amelia Bedelia” stories).

“Club Read: Windblowne” at Changing Hands Bookstore. Sept 4 (2pm; free). Tween/teen event best for ages 8-12 includes free pizza, author chat via “Skype” and more

Whatever your style, you can always find family-friendly events listed online at www.raisingarizonakids.com.

–Lynn

Note: Please consult with venues before attending to confirm date/time, location, age range, price and such.

Coming up: A good knave is hard to find

Photo: www.rainbowweekend.org

Sharing cultures, enriching communities

Sharing cultures. Enriching communities.

The Arizona Humanities Council is on a mission…

Stories convey our history, traditions, social mores, beliefs and insights about what it means to be human. The Arizona Humanities Council creates opportunities for sharing these diverse stories through critical thinking and public discussion to better understand and appreciate one another, so that we can make informed decisions about our collective future.

Their calendar of AHC-funded events lists all sorts learning opportunities focused on arts and culture – including presentations, community book discussions and town halls – within five regions of Arizona.

This is welcome news for those who suspect that community, books and discussions are rapidly being replaced by cubicles, remote controls and keypads.

Here’s a brief sampling by theme…

Native Cultures

“Plainsong” book discussion at the Buckeye Public Library. “Historic Graffiti” at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix. “The Changing Economic Resources on Arizona’s Indian Reservations” and “Hopi Ponawit” at the Heard Museum (Phoenix). “Apache Culture Kit” at the Arizona State Museum (Tucson).

Arizona History

“Thornton Wilder’s Arizona Days” and “Arizona Place Names” at Sunland Village (Mesa). “Japanese-American Internment in Arizona” at the Heard Museum (Phoenix). “Postcard Images of Arizona: 1990-1920″ at the Gila County Historical Society (Globe). “Radicalism in the Mountain West” at Payson Public Library. “Arizona’s War Town” at the Sedona Historical Society.

Food

“Eating the Depression: New Deal Food” at the Arizona Capitol Museum (and other sites). “The Food of Arizona: Many Cultures, Many Flavors” at the Tucson Main Library.

Music & Dance

“Your Musical Brain: Can Music Make You Smarter?,” “Flamenco Dancing and Spanish Bullfighting,” and “The Music and Ritual of Arizona’s Native Americans” at the Tempe History Museum. “The Healing Art: How Does Music Soothe the Soul?” at the Pima County Public Library. “Romancing Arizona: Songs of Love and Marriage” at the Lake Havasu Museum of History.

Diverse Cultures

“The History of Mexico and Contemporary Issues” at Sunland Village East (Mesa). “2010 Mesa Latino Town Hall” at Mesa Community College. “A New Day in Babylon: African American and Mexican Relations” at the Arizona Historical Society Museum (Tempe). “Cuentos Chicanos” book discussion at Prescott Public Library. “First Annual Chinese American Symposium” panel discussion at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.

Women’s Issues

“Women in Arizona History” at the Arizona Historical Society Museum (Tempe). “Witchcraze: The War Against Witches” at the Himmel Park Branch Library (Tucson). “The Women of Brewster Place” book discussion at Sierra Vista Public Library.

Literature & Writing

“The Origins and Development of Chicana and Chicano Literature” at the Arizona State Library (Phoenix). “Voices from the Literary West” and “Desert to Mountain: Arizona Writers Speak” at Prescott Resort. “Writings on the Edge: Borderlands Reading” at Payson Public Library. “To Kill a Mockingbird” book discussion at Buckeye Public Library.

Visual Art

“Visual Humor: Some Humorous Analogies between Language and Art” at Payson Public Library. “Images of Grandeur: Artists and Photographers of the Grand Canyon” at the Lake Havasu Museum of History.

Don’t be discouraged if events that interest you aren’t being held in your neck of the woods. Just seize the opportunity for a fun day trip or overnight adventure — allowing extra time to visit the museums and enjoy the performance art of the city you’re visiting.

Arizona is rich in diverse arts and culture — but it’s not going to come and ring your doorbell.

Get out there…

–Lynn

Note: Click here for a more detailed calendar of AHC-funded activities throughout Arizona — and check event details before you go to assure you have the most complete and comprehensive information available.

Also visit the AHC website at www.azhumanities.org for information about grant opportunities, Smithsonian exhibitions coming to Arizona, cultural heritage tourism and a variety of special projects including “Literature and Medicine,” “Project Civil Discourse” and more.

Coming up: Dance from around the world performed around the Valley, Musings on magic, “First Friday” highlights, Modern day storytellers