From vampires to toy soldiers

I’ve enjoyed many a backstage moment at Symphony Hall helping young dancers prepare to take the stage for Ballet Arizona’s “The Nutcracker”–placing round red stickers on toy soldier faces, tying bows on the backs of party girl dresses, pinning all sorts of headgear in place.

I suspect it’ll be a very different scene backstage before Lisa Starry’s “A Vampire Tale,” which opens its 7th annual production October 13 at Phoenix Theatre’s Little Theatre (adjacent to the Phoenix Art Museum). Red, indeed. Headgear, perhaps. And fangs?

I can’t say because I’ve never been clever enought to snag tickets before they sell out. Mark your calendar for Sept 1 and you can learn from my mistakes.

Also note the dates Sept 22-26, which is when Ballet Arizona presents another annual dance tradition–their free, outdoor performances of “Ballet Under the Stars.” They’ll perform at four parks Valleywide, which many families enjoy ala picnics and beach blankets.

Next up in annual dance delights is the “Arizona Dance Festival,” being presented by Desert Dance Theatre Oct 7-9 at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Young performers and their parents may want to note dance audition dates for upcoming productions of “The Nutcracker.”

Scene from Ballet Etudes' "The Nutcracker"

Ballet Etudes children’s auditions (ages 7-18) will be held in Gilbert on Saturday, Sept 9. Their production of “The Nutcracker” features a cast of more than 100, and is performed over the course of three weeks at both Chandler Center for the Arts and Mesa Arts Center.

Ballet Arizona children’s auditions for “The Nutcracker” take place the following day, Sunday, Sept 12 at their studios in Phoenix. They perform the state’s only professional production of “The Nutcracker”–which runs Dec 10-26 this year at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.

Be sure to check websites carefully for age, height, skill level and other requirements–and remember all those cardinal rules of auditioning such as being well rested, taking plenty of water and arriving early to register and warm up.

I’ve also enjoyed “stage mom” time behind the scenes with “The Snow Queen,” performed annually at the Herberger Theater Center (which will celebrate a glorious renovation with an Oct 1 grand reopening event).

Snow Queen is presented by Center Dance Ensemble, resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center–and runs Dec 4-19 this year.

Scene from Center Dance Ensemble's "Snow Queen"

Snow Queen auditions take place Sunday, Sept 26, at the Dance Theater West studios in Phoenix, and are open to dancers ages 7-17 with a minimum of two years dance experience.

This next annual dance event is a ways off yet, but it’s worth marking your calendar now…

It’s the Arizona State University “2011 Dance Annual,” which is just one of many dance events presented each year by the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts School of Dance.

Radio City Rockettes

Finally, don’t forget your tickets to see the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring the Rockettes” Dec 1 and 2 at Glendale’s Jobing.com arena.

For a sneak peek, and a chance to win a free ticket voucher, join talented hometown dancers with the Rockettes as they lead the Phoenix leg (tee hee) of a nationwide “Kicking Across America” event tomorrow (Thursday, Aug 12) at 11am at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Stay tuned for news of other exciting dance performances coming to the Valley–including the Merce Cunningham Dance Company “Legacy Tour” coming next year to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts–as well as a wealth of offerings from our many local dance companies and college dance programs.

–Lynn

Note: After writing this post, I received an alert about the “first annual” production of “The Nutcracker” being presented by Ballet Academy of Arizona and Theater Works at the Peoria Center for the Arts. Visit www.balletacademyofarizona.org to learn about performance dates/times and how your child can participate.

Coming up: Musings on museums and Mountain Dew, Conversations with Radio City Rockettes, Season openers for Valley theaters, The amazing travels of “Curious George,” Broadway musings from a Phoenix Theatre pro

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