Tag Archives: Symphony Hall

Dance recital roundup

In dance world, December conjures images of “The Nutcracker.” But June is the month for dance recitals, and we’ve got plenty of them here in the Valley. If you’re looking for dance lessons for your child, there’s much to learn from attending the recitals of various dance studios.

Recitals are windows into what studios value. Is the atmosphere warm and welcoming? Is the studio teaching styles of dance your child enjoys? Do event materials convey professionalism? Do participating students and those who teach them demonstrate a love for dance?

Recitals can help you get a feel for which studios might be the best fit for your family. Pick some studios with a compatible vibe and single them out for more study. Explore their websites. Tour their studios. Talk with their directors. You’ll soon get a read on what feels best for your child.

Here’s a sampling of dance recitals in the Phoenix metro area, including two taking place this evening…

All About Dance presents “The Art of Dance” Thurs, May 31 at 6pm. Tempe Center for the Arts. $12-$15. www.allaboutdance-az.com.

Ballet Etudes School of Dance presents “Recital 2012″ Thurs, May 31 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. $11. www.balletetudes.net.

Dance Studio 111 presents “The Story” Fri, June 1 and Sat, June 2 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $18-$30. www.dancestudio111.com.

The School of Ballet Arizona presents “Spring Performance 2012″ Sun, June 3 at 7pm. Symphony Hall in Phoenix. $34-$74.  www.balletaz.org.

Paula Carr Dance Academy presents “Road Trip Across America!” Sat, June 9 at 3:30pm. Mesa Arts Center. $15. www.pcda.info.

Plumb Performing Arts Center presents “Move 2012″ Sat, June 9 at 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale. www.plumbperformingartscenter.com.

Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy and Epik Dance present “Generation Pop” Sat, June 9 at 4pm. Mesa Arts Center. $15-$17. www.studio3arts.com and www.epikdanceco.org.

Dance West presents “Dancin’ in the Streets” Sun, June 10 at 4pm. Chandler Center to the Arts. $10-$16. www.tempedancewest.com.

Marilyn Bostic’s Ballet Centre presents “Marilyn Bostic’s Dance Centre Recital” Thurs, June 14 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $16. balletcentre.tripod.com.

Classic Image Dance Co. presents “Greatest Hits Vol. 2″ Fri, June 15 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. $20-$28. www.classicimagedance.com.

Dance Connection presents “The Dance Awards 2012″ Sat, June 16 at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. www.danceconnectionaz.com.

Tempe Dance Academy presents “Dancing Through the Years: Dance Factory” Sat, June 16 at 2pm. $10-$16. Chandler Center for the Arts. www.tempedance.com.

Tempe Dance Academy presents “Dance Recital” Sat, June 16 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $10-$16. www.tempedance.com.

Wagner Dance & Music presents “Toy Box” Sat, June 23 at 7pm. $14-$16. Chandler Center for the Arts. www.wagnerdanceandmusic.com.

Attending dance recitals is an excellent way to support both young artists and the professionals who teach them. After weeks and months of learning and rehearsing recital pieces, young dancers appreciate having large, supportive audiences. So go. Applaud generously. And make a child’s day.

– Lynn

Note: If you’ve got a dance recital in the Phoenix metro area that’s not listed here, please comment below to let our readers know. Always check event details before attending.

Coming up: The CW network premieres its six-week “Breaking Pointe” series

Broadway Rocks!

Kaye Tuckerman as Donna in Mamma Mia! (Photo: Joan Marcus)

He’s young. He’s hip. But will conductor Joseph Young don the spandex jumpsuit to conduct a bit of music from “Mamma Mia” featured in this weekend’s “Broadway Rocks!” concerts performed by The Phoenix Symphony?

I think not — but it is fun to imagine all the fashion options knowing they’ll also be playing selections from “Rent,” “Dreamgirls,””Jersey Boys,” “Hairspray” and “Wicked.” Pointy hat, anyone?

The Phoenix Symphony performs “Broadway Rocks!” at Symphony Hall Feb. 24-26 — with a Sunday matinee for those of you who like to take the kiddos to such things but still believe in proper bedtimes.

Jackie Burns as Elpheba in Wicked (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The concerts are perfectly timed for who plan to see “Wicked” at ASU Gammage – which features favorites from “Defying Gravity” to “For Good.” Practice your “toss, toss” hair flipping now so you’re ready for the big night.

“Broadway Rocks” also includes selections from “The Wiz,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Lion King,” “Hair,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “Chess.” Even music from “Jekyll and Hyde,” which I’ve always found especially moving.

It features performance by The Phoenix Symphony Chorus as well as three vocalists — Christiane Noll, Virginia Woodruff and Doug LaBrecque. Lovely choices, but I’ll still be missing D. Scott Withers, whose campy “Edna” stylings in the Phoenix Theatre and Arkansas Repertory Theatre productions of “Hairspray” were delicious.

Van Hughes (Johny), Scott J. Campbell (Tunny) and Nicci Claspell (The Extraordinary Girl) in American Idiot (Photo: Doug Hamilton)

Two touring productions of Broadway shows with a rock and roll vibe are headed our way as well. The Theater League production of “Rock of Ages” comes to two Valley venues April 10-15, and the national tour of “American Idiot” comes to ASU Gammage April 24-29.

Come fall, The Phoenix Symphony will present a concert called “Wicked Divas.” It’s being performed Sept. 28-30 as part of their 2012-13 season “Pops Series” — and feature vocalists Ali Mauzey and Nicole Parker, who’ve both performed in “Wicked.” The concert will include music from “Gypsy,” “Ragtime,” “Titanic,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Carmen” and “Wicked.”

Maybe I’ll pass them my short list of favorite Broadway men – say Mandy Patinkin and Andrew Rannells — in case they want to give equal time to a few of the guys. Or they could just make my daughter Lizabeth’s day by bringing out her favorite trio of J. Pierrepont Finches — Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas.

– Lynn

Note: The 2nd annual “Symphony Stroll,” presented by Phoenix Symphony Allegro, takes place Sat., Feb. 25 from 4-7pm. Click here for details.

Coming up: Art awakenings

Update: The Carolyn Eynon Singers perform “Broadway Showstoppers from Berlin, Bernstein and Sondheim,” with special guest and narrator David Barker, Feb. 24 & 25 at Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale.

Seuss sightings

Copperstar Repertory Co. presents Seussical at Higley Center for the Arts in March

Don the striped felt hats and ready the green eggs and ham — because all things Seuss are headed our way as families ready to celebrate the March 2 birthday of the man who brought us all those “things you can think.”

Fountain Hills Youth Theater opens its production of “Seussical Jr.” this Friday, Feb. 3. It’s family-friendly fare featuring favorite Seuss characters including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and Jojo.

Front (L to R): Elysha Nemeth and Skylar Bickley, Back (L to R): Emily Spets, Patrick Moyse and Peyton Jordan in Seussical Jr. at Fountain Hills Theater

Musical Theatre of Anthem opens its production of “Seussical Jr.” Feb. 17 at Boulder Creek High School in Anthem. “Seussical Jr.” features songs like “Horton Hears a Who,” “How to Raise a Child,” “It’s Possible,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “All Alone in the Universe.”

The musical “Seussical” presented by Copperstar Repertory Co., in partnership with Higley Center for the Arts, opens March 23. “Seussical,” which debuted on Broadway in 2000, is based on more than a dozen Seuss stories. It’s longer than the later “Jr.” version and contains a military thread removed from the musical’s adaptations for youth.

I took daughter Lizabeth to see “Seussical” when the touring production starring Cathy Rigsby came to ASU Gammage as part of its 2002-2003 season. She was about 10 years old at the time, and loved everything about it. She still does.

“Seussical” features book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose names are as famous to musical theater folk as Dr. Suess is to the rest of us. Flaherty wrote the music for “Seussical,” and Ahrens the lyrics. Their first team venture was a 1988 musical called “Lucky Stiff.”

Lizabeth performed in the Arizona School for the Arts production of “Lucky Stiff” at Greasepaint Youtheatre before heading off to NYC for college theater studies. It was directed by Toby Yatso, who’ll be narrating “Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham” for the Phoenix Symphony on March 17.

Cast members from the Musical Theatre of Anthem production of Seussical, Jr. (Photo: Olga Smirnoff)

“Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham” is being conducted by Joseph Young and performed at the Orpheum in Phoenix. It features Allison Stanford (soprano) and Aaron Zweiback (boy soprano) and Bill Wanser (percussion) as well as Yatso and actors from Valley Youth Theatre

I first saw the talented Zweiback perform during a Childsplay Academy performance featuring selections from the musical “Grease,” but he’s since performed with Phoenix Theatre and VYT.

The Phoenix Symphony production allows families to “follow and interact with Sam-I-Am as he rhymes his way through Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.” It’ll feature “a rendition of Gerald McBoing Boing, an animated short film by Dr. Seuss and selections from Seussical the Musical.”

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” from the creators of “Despicable Me,” opens in movie theaters nationwide March 2. It follows the adventures of a 12-year-old boy seeking to win the girl of his dreams, and features lots of big names from Zac Efron and Taylor Swift to Betty White and Danny DeVito.

One Seuss, Two Seuss. Theater Seuss, Musical Suess. It’s all good. But I’m still not sporting the big hat.

– Lynn

Note: Check your local libraries and bookstores as Dr. Seuss’ birthday draws near for special Seuss-inspired activities for children and families. Click here to explore a PBS Independent Lens presentation called “The Political Dr. Seuss,” and here to enjoy PBS’ “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That.”

Coming up: Here piggy, piggy…

Aria meets artwork

I spied works by students from Summit High School during a recent visit to the Arizona State Capitol. They were created in partnership with Arizona Opera’s education program, and are being exhibited through Young Arts Arizona. The exhibit is supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts with funding from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Young Arts Arizona is a community-based organization that publicly exhibits children’s art, and has a special interest in supporting at-risk youth. They currently receive artwork from 49 schools and 31 agenices — which they exhibit throughout Tucson and the metro Phoenix area.

The Legislative Hallway Gallery at the Arizona State Capitol is one of several permanent galleries featuring Young Arts collections. Symphony Hall, Valley Youth Theatre, Cardon Children’s Medical Center and plenty of additional venues also exhibit works created through Young Arts partnerships.

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Young Arts Arizona produces more than 70 public exhibits of children’s artwork each year — some within their own Phoenix gallery, called “Purple Space,” which participates in the “First Friday” program. They’ve also got an online gallery. Many of the opera-inspired works I enjoyed at the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday had a “Phantom of the Opera” or “Madama Butterfly” theme.

The Arizona Opera production of “Madama Butterfly” runs Jan. 27-29 in Phoenix. Five-year-old Alexander King of Chandler and six-year-old Andrew Baiamonte of Phoenix will play the role of Madama Butterfly’s son “Sorrow.”

Arizona Opera recently announced its 2012/13 season — which they’ve dubbed “The Price of Passion.” It features five works that’ll be performed in both Tucson and Phoenix, including “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Romeo et Juliette,” “Tosca,” “Il Trovatore,” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about Young Arts Arizona and here to learn more about Arizona Opera.

Coming up: Student art inspired by MLK

Wings & things

Wing It! opens next month at the Arizona Museum for Youth

Inspired by Childsplay’s upcoming world premiere of “With Two Wings,” I went in search of other fare with a “wings & things” twist.

My first fun find was an exhibit coming to the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa next month for a Feb. 5-May 6 run. It’s called “Wing It! All Things That Fly” — and it’ll feature “artwork that showcases our collective fascination with the creatures, inventions and fantasies” that allow us to fly. My money is on the espresso machine.

Also “Rulers of the Prehistoric Skies,” coming to the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa this month for a Jan. 21-Dec. 30 run as part of the city’s overall “Mesa Takes Flight” centennial theme. The exhibit, which is currently being built in-house, focuses on flying reptiles — but it will also explore “the evolution of flight from insects, the true first fliers, to birds and bats.”

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix presents several events and exhibits featuring winged creatures. There’s the “Spring Butterfly Exhibit” in the Marshall Butterfly Pavilion March 3-May 13, “Mariposa Monarca” Sept. 29-Nov. 25, and “Birds in the Garden” Mondays and second Saturdays (7am May-Sept. and 8am Oct.-April).

Arizona Opera performs Madama Butterfly this month

For an altogether different sort of butterfly fix, head to Symphony Hall in Phoenix for the Jan. 27-29 performance of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” by Arizona Opera. It features Shu-Ying Li, and will be sung in Italian with English subtitles. There’s a 1pm matinee on Saturday for those who prefer daytime outings.

The “Imago Theatre: ZooZoo” performance at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts takes place that same afternoon, Jan. 28, at 2pm. It’s described as “a fun-filled cross between a circus, vaudeville and zoo.” Think leaping frogs, acrobatic worms, prancing hippos, playful polar bears and mischievous penguins. Talk about typecasting.

Folks who do the “ZooZoo” can stay after the show for a 3:30pm post-show workshop — a collaboration with the Phoenix Zoo that’s “free and fun for the whole family.” The “Mask & Movement” workshop, part of the center’s Arts-Connect program, will be held in the venue’s Dayton Fowler Grafman Atrium.

Imago Theatre performs ZooZoo in Scottsdale this month

Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior presents a “Bird Sit” with Rick Wright on Jan. 12 at 8:30am. Guided birdwalks resume Feb. 4 with the Arizona Audubon’s Cathy Wise as well as John Ray. Bird walks are scheduled for Feb. 26; March 3, 11, 17 & 25; and April 7, 8, 21 & 22.

There’s even a little something for the grown-ups who like a bit of beer with their bird FAQs — every third Thursday of the month at the Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix. Talk about wings & things…

– Lynn

Coming up: Shakespeare meets the Middle Ages, Museum “sneak peek,” Trauma transformed by imagination

Holiday dance memories

Jennifer backstage at The Nutcracker with Ballet Arizona

Both my daughters, now college age, danced in local holiday dance productions as children. Jennifer performed in “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen” and Ballet Arizona’s “The Nutcracker.” Lizabeth performed for many years in the Ballet Arizona production of “The Nutcracker” — in the roles of Mother Ginger’s child, grandfather mouse and party girl.

Afternoons spent together at holiday dance productions create wonderful family memories, like those I still cherish decades after seeing “The Nutcracker” performed in Colorado with my mother during many a holiday season. So I’m delighted to share news of options for Arizona families eager to create similar snapshots in time.

Your first opportunity to see “The Nutcracker” in the Valley this year will be the Ballet Etudes production, performed by youth dancers, opening Nov. 25. It runs through Dec. 11 at Chandler Center for the Arts. www.balletetudes.net.

Ballet and Friends performs “The Nutcracker”  Nov. 25-27 at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix. It’s choreographed by artistic director Slawomir Wozniak. www.balletandfriends.org.

Another production of “The Nutcracker” featuring Valley youth will be performed by Southwest Youth Ballet Dec. 16 & 17 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts. The production features music performed by the Chandler Symphony Orchestra. www.southwestyouthballettheatre.org.

“An Irish Nutcracker,” also featuring youth performers, is being presented by the Arizona Irish Dance Association in conjunction with Maguire Academy of Irish Dance. It’s coming to the Herberger Theater Center Dec. 17 and the Mesa Arts Center Dec. 18 — and features an Irish twist in both music and dance. www.maguireacademy.com.

Girls waiting their turn to audition for The Nutcracker with Ballet Arizona

The Ballet Arizona production of “The Nutcracker,” featuring choreography by artistic director Ib Andersen, is being performed at Symphony Hall in Phoenix Dec. 9-24. The cast includes both Ballet Arizona dancers and youth, some from the School of Ballet Arizona, selected through an audition process. Music will be performed by the Phoenix Symphony. www.balletaz.org.

A touring production featuring the Moscow Ballet, titled “Great Russian Nutcracker,” comes to the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix for just a single performance on Dec. 20. www.livenation.com.

A longtime Valley favorite, “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen,” is being performed Dec, 3-18 at the Herberger Theater Center. Cohen serves as artistic director for Center Dance Ensemble, the resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center. This production, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” features both company dancers and youth (many  from Dance Theater West) selected through an audition process. www.centerdance.com.

The Arizona Dance Coalition presents “A Joyous Christmas” at various Valley locations Dec. 1, 3 and 4. It features guest artists Jeffrey Polston, formerly with Complexions Contemporary Ballet in NYC, and Astrit Zejnati, principal dancer with Ballet Arizona. Also AZDance’s professional dance roster, their “Children’s Christmas” company and dancers from “Movement E-Motion” — a dance program for “individuals with different abilities.”  www.azdancecoalition.org.

Make time for dance this holiday season  — because the rush of retail fades far too quickly, but shared experiences with on-stage magic last a lifetime.

– Lynn

Note: If your dance company is presenting a holiday dance production not noted above, please comment below to let our readers know.

Coming up: Thanksgiving fun — NYC style

Christmas concerts

Normally we follow a strict “no talk of Christmas until after Thanksgiving” rule at our house. It’s a reflection of the philosophy we embrace year round — First, give thanks.

But I discovered, while researching Christmas concert options, that several are fast approaching – and decided to run with the Christmas music vibe a bit early this year.

The Phoenix Children's Chorus performs Dec 3 in Higley

The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix presents “An Irish Christmas” with song, dance and more Nov. 27. www.azirish.org.

The Phoenix Symphony presents “Holiday Pops” Dec. 2-4 and “Family Holiday Concert” Dec. 3 at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Valley Youth Theatre performers are taking part in the pops concert. www.phoenixsymphony.org.

Mesa Arts Center presents a Heritage Academy Performing Arts Dept. holiday concert Dec. 2, the “Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour” Dec. 14 and “Holiday Pops: Salt River Brass” Dec. 18. www.mesaartscenter.com.

The Phoenix Children’s Chorus presents “Start the Season with Song” Dec. 3 at Higley Center for the Performing Arts. www.higleyarts.org.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a “Christmas Concert” Dec. 4 at Velda Rose United Methodist Church. www.cgc.maricopa.edu.

The Orpheus Male Chorus presents “Holidays with Orpheus” Dec. 4, 11 and 13 at various Valley locations. www.orpheus.org.

The Sonoran Desert Chorale presents “Passage of Joy! Noel!” Dec. 10 (Mesa) and 11 (Paradise Valley). www.sonorandesertchorale.com.

Center Dance Ensemble presents “Spirit of the Season” with Jeffrey Hatrick and Nicole Pesce Dec. 12 at the Herberger Theater Center. www.herbergertheater.org.

The Blind Boys of Alabma perform Dec 10 in Scottsdale

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents “Go Tell It On The Mountain: The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show” Dec. 10 and “Big Voodoo Daddy’s Wild and Swinging Holiday Party” Dec. 21.  ww.scottsdaleperformingarts.com.

Rosie’s House presents their “Holiday Concert” Dec. 12 at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix. www.rosieshouse.org.

Tempe Center for the Arts presents “Performance with a View: SaxMas Morning” featuring the ASU Saxophone Studio Dec. 13 and “Lakeshore Jazz Series: Phoenix Boys Choir Christmas Tour” Dec. 23. www.tempe.gov/tca.

Mesa Community College presents a “Songs of the Season” concert and reception Dec. 16 at MCC’s Red Mountain campus. www.mesacc.edu.

The Phoenix Boys Choir presents “Spirit of the Holidays” Dec. 16 at the Virginia G. Piper Performing Arts Center at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. www.boyschoir.org.

Actors Theatre of Phoenix performs a concert version of “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 24 at the Herberger Theater Center. www.actorstheatrephx.org.

Several Valley groups are performing at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix — click here to read a post featuring their holiday concert options.

If your Valley arts organization is presenting a Christmas concert not noted here, please comment below to let our readers know — thanks!

– Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive list of family events for the holiday season, check out the December issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine and click here to visit their online calendar.

Coming up: Holiday dance delights, Three nights in Bangkok, Circle time

Cinderella tales

Ballet Etudes performing Cinderella (Photos by Ron Sill of Pixelcraft Photography)

I came across a picture of my daughter Lizabeth next to a giant “Cinderella” poster a while back as we sat on the living room couch trolling through boxes of family photos. She was wearing a long pink floral dress and clutching a mouse we’d purchased as a show souvenir. She must have been about eight years old at the time.

We’ve seen several productions of “Cinderella” through the years. I’ve got another photo of Lizabeth sporting a pink “Cinderella” T-shirt from a long ago VYT production at the Herberger Theater Center – though none of Lizabeth’s friends will believe she’s ever worn pink without seeing these pictures for themselves.

Dancers from Ballet Etudes performing Cinderella in Chandler

Like the musical “Annie,” it’s got a story we just never seem to tire of, despite objections to its “a girl needs a prince to be happy” vibe. Maybe it’s all those singing birds and sewing animals.

Valley families can enjoy the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” in Mesa through Sat, Aug 6. The theater is offering special pricing for Thursday night performances of “Cinderella.” All seats for all ages are $18, and that price includes both dinner and the show.

Cinderella is a favorite with Ballet Etudes audiences

Part of the fun of seeing so many productions of “Cinderella” has been watching Lizabeth’s reactions to the show at various ages and stages. Even families who see the Broadway Palm production will enjoy revisiting the work when Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale presents “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” in March of 2012. Children can enjoy a tea party with “Cinderella” cast members before each Greasepaint matinee.

Ballet Arizona is taking the tale of “Cinderella” to a whole new level with their world premiere production this October at Phoenix Symphony Hall. Their “Cinderella,” choreographed by Ib Andersen, will feature the music of Sergei Prokofiev performed by the Phoenix Symphony. It’s part of their 2011-2012 “Fairytale Season,” which also includes “The Sleeping Beauty.”

The Ballet Etudes production of Cinderella returns to Chandler in May

Ballet Etudes performs “Cinderella” at Chandler Center for the Arts in May of 2012. Their production has long been an audience favorite, and I suspect they can even tie the “Cinderella” theme into the “ballerina birthday parties” offered at their Gilbert studio.

The Cinderella Affair gathers prom gowns for girls who aren't able to buy one of their own

If your children feel they’ve outgrown “Cinderella,” perhaps they’re old enough to help with “The Cinderella Affair,” an all-volunteer project in the East Valley that helps to make proms affordable and memorable for Phoenix area juniors and seniors by collecting and distributing gently-used formalwear.

Not everyone is born wearing glass slippers.

– Lynn

Note: All Ballet Etudes photos in this post taken by Ron Sill of Pixelcraft Photography. Click here to read a companion post featuring more fairy tales coming to Valley stages.

Coming up: Finding film in unexpected places, Arizona artwalks, Arizona actors meet NYC fringe, Who let the “Wolves” out?

From catwalk to picket line?

Valley dance offerings this month include Billy Elliot The Musical (Photo above by Michael Brosilow), Catwalk by Scorpius Dance Theatre and Peter Pan by Ballet Academy of Arizona

As some of you know, my cat “Pinky” brings her own special brand of sophistication to theater criticism. And now, thanks to Scorpius Dance Theatre, she’s toying with a move into the dance world as well.

Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “CATWALK” — a blend of dance and fashion full of “runway attitude” — May 12-21 at Phoenix Theatre’s Little Theatre. It’s an original contemporary dance production that “fuses funky, local fashions and sexy athleticism” with the choreography of Lisa Starry.

“CATWALK” is staged on a runway. It “features 17 dancers, 10 choreographic works four independent designers, and one urban boutique.” Both new works and “returning favorites” are included in this year’s production.

If you need a faster dance fix, there’s still time to catch “Billy Elliot The Musical” at ASU Gammage. It’s another show best for mature audiences, but it’s set in a coal mining town rather than on a fashion runway. “Billy Elliot” features young dancers but don’t take your pre-teens along unless you’re comfortable with them hearing some rather colorful cursing.

For tamer fare, take your family to the Ballet Academy of Arizona performance of “Peter Pan” Sun, May 15 at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.

Like ASU Gammage and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, the Herberger often presents diverse dance performance it’s sometimes harder to find other places.

Ballet Arizona presents its “Celebration of Balanchine” featuring three works by this “father of modern ballet” June 2-5 at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. Music is by Ravel, Stravinsky and others.

Ballet Arizona presents a different program of Balanchine works each Spring — which are consistently breathtaking in the hands of Ballet Arizona artistic director Ib Andersen. Andersen danced with the New York City Ballet while Balanchine served as its ballet master and principal choreographer.

This time of year plenty of schools and dance studios present their spring dance recitals — which often feature works perfect for families at low or no cost. Check with your local high schools, colleges/universities, dance studios and performing arts venues to find the best fit for your dance tastes and interests.

I noticed while driving past Arcadia High School in Phoenix the other day that they have a dance performance scheduled for Thurs, May 5 and Fri, May 6 at 7pm. And Chandler-Gilbert Community College recently alerted me to their “Student Dance Showcase” taking place Fri, May 6 and Sat, May 7 at 8pm ($3-$5/ticket).

If your school or dance studio is presenting a dance performance (this month or next) that’s open to the public, please comment below to let “Stage Mom” readers know. To find other dance and art-related events for families, visit the online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

I’m off to see if I can interest Pinky is donning a tutu or some other dance fashion for a photo I can drop back into this post for your later amusement. But never fear, no pets are ever harmed in the making of my word art. What’ll become of the tutu, however, is anyone’s guess.

– Lynn

Note: Watch for the June issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine, which includes an “AZ Generations” column profiling the family of a Valley dancer and dance instructor who describes herself as a “bunhead by birth.”

Coming up: Childsplay actors — on stage and off

Ballet meets fairy tale

Jillian Barrell and Russell Clarke, Cinderella, Ballet Arizona (Photo: Tim Fuller)

Fairy tales come in all sorts of forms these days. Storybooks. Online activities. Animated movies. Too often the most exciting way to experience fairy tales — through live performance art — is overlooked.

But Arizona families will have several opportunities to see fairy tales come to life on Valley stages next season. The 2011-2012 season for Ballet Arizona includes the world premiere of “Cinderella” choreographed by Ib Andersen, as well as Andersen’s “The Sleeping Beauty.”

Ballet is a magical art for the young at heart — who are so easily swept away by ethereal costumes, glistening sets and enchanted storytelling. If you’ve yet to introduce your children to the grandeur and grace of ballet, the coming Ballet Arizona season presents a perfect opportunity.

Another ballet especially well-suited to children, of course, is Ib Andersen’s “The Nutcracker.” Like “Cinderella” and “The Sleeping Beauty,” it’s best enjoyed after reading the story together as a family.

Let your children experience the story of “The Nutcracker” in their own imaginations first — then introduce them to the wonder of imaginings unfolding on stage in “bigger than life” settings.

Ballet connoisseurs will be thrilled to learn that the 2011-2012 Ballet Arizona season also includes “Director’s Choice” — featuring “In the Night” choreographed by Jerome Robbins, “Suenos” choreographed by Ib Andersen and “Paquita” choreographed by Olga Evreinoff and Marius Petipa.

“Director’s Choice” is the only work of the season Ballet Arizona will perform at the intimate Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, and the one production that will not feature music by The Phoenix Symphony.

Closing the Ballet Arizona 2011-2012 season will be “All Balanchine” featuring three Balanchine works — “Stravinsky Violin Concerto,” “Episodes” (an Arizona premiere) and “Rubies.”

Ballet Arizona has dubbed 2011-2012 their “Fairytale Season.” We never really outgrow our fascination with fairy tales, and time spent with Ballet Arizona is a beautiful way for grown-ups to get a fairy tale fix.

– Lynn

Note: The Ballet Arizona box office is currently accepting renewal and new subscriptions (including, for the first time, Thursday night subscriptions). Current subscribers must renew before April 11, 2011 to keep their current seats next season.

Coming up: More new season offerings, Stage Mom reviews “Fiddler on the Roof” at ASU Gammage, Accepted at several colleges/conservatories — tips for finding the best fit