Balanchine to butterflies

Normally I’m not much of a name-dropper, but today I can’t resist… 

George Balanchine. Sergei Prokofiev. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Ib Andersen. Never mind that three of the four are dead, because their artistry lives on in performances like “Balanchine Classics,” being presented this weekend by Ballet Arizona

Happily, Andersen is very much alive and celebrating the 10th anniversary of doing his thing with Ballet Arizona. His official title, of course, is artistic director. But that’s only because “visionary” might look silly on a business card. I’ve enjoyed Ballet Arizona performing Balanchine for years and it never disappoints. 

You’ll have four opportunities to see it performed this weekend with the Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall—including two matinees and two evening performances. Ballet Arizona describes various elements of the program as”exotic,” “powerful,” “riveting,” “elegant” and “intriguing.” I doubt it’s an oversell. 

The stage at the Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts will also be very much alive this weekend as one of Italy’s most innovative theater companies, Compagnia TPO (Teatro di Piazza d’Occasione), presents an interactive theater experience called “Farfelle” (Butterflies).

Audience members are seated on the stage surrounding TPO’s touch-sensitive “magic carpet” and “wing-like, sculptural set” as two dancers move through a “virtual landscape of sight and sound” to recreate a butterfly’s journey from wiggling caterpillar to flying adult. It sounds like a lot more fun than my usual encounters with farfalle, which involve eating pasta also known for its bow-tie shape. 

I suppose some of you might get butterflies attending a different performance this weekend, as Theater Works in Peoria presents Franc D’Ambrosio at the Peoria Center for the Arts. The Justin Bieber crowd may be unimpressed but the more mature among you may find yourselves swooning as “the world’s longes-running Phantom” performs in concert. 

This is a one-night-only deal, so set aside Saturday night, June 12, if you’re a fan of all things masked and melodic. The evening begins with a cocktail reception and silent auction, and features an artist reception/meet and greet following the concert. Proceeds benefit youth scholarships supported by the Scottsdale Foothills Rotary.

As always, your best resource for comprehensive information on family-friendly events in the Valley is the daily calendar available both online and in print from Raising Arizona Kids magazine—which regularly features everything from art exhibits and puppet shows to youth theater and storytimes. 

And so I leave you with just a few more options for weekend playtime… 

Arizona Designer Craftsmen presents the “50th Annual Juried Exhibition” (featuring the work of more than 50 artists) opening reception at the Mesa Arts Center June 11.

The Academy of the Performing Arts presents “Center Stage” featuring unique dance and music productions by a complete cast of 150 young performers and Academy staff at the Tempe Center for the Arts June 11-12. 

Dance Republic presents “Kings and Queens” June 12 at the Mesa Arts Center Piper Repertory Theater. 

Valley Youth Theatre presents your last opportunity to see their production of “Willy Wonka” through June 12 at VYT in Phoenix. 

And there you have it. Candy-themed theater. Masked men. Pairings of geniuses dead and alive. Butterflies that don’t startle. And more.

Don’t even think about staying home all weekend… 


Correction: Thanks to the keen-eyed reader who noted the incorrect day originally listed for the Theater Works performance featured above. This post has been updated to indicate that the concert is on Saurday (rather than Sunday). Alas–the “Phantom” has that effect on me…

Note: The week ahead also includes some special performances—including the Broadway hit “In the Heights” at ASU Gammage (June 15-20, with “talk-back” following the Saturday matinee), the “Israeli Scouts-Tzofim Friendship Caravan” in a free performance of song and dance (June 16), the start of The Metropolitan Opera summer “Live in HD” series (June 16 at select AMC and Cinemark Theaters in our area) and the opening of two community college theater productions (see future post for details).

Photos (top to bottom): “The Four Temperaments,” choreography by George Balanchine. Copyright the George Balanchine Trust. Photography by Rosalie O’Connor from; Butterfly Tree from; Frank D’Ambrosio as the Phantom of the Opera from; “Willy Wonka” from Valley Youth Theatre at; “In the Heights” from


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