Tag Archives: Arizona dance

Dance detours

Dance delivers a delightful detour from dull or dreary days

We all need a little detour from daily life now and then — and dance can be a joyous distraction. Consider getting away from it all for a bit during the next several weeks as Valley dance companies and performing arts venues present all sorts of delightful dance events.

Ballet Arizona performs “Modern Masters” March 24-27 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. It features “Polyphonia” (Christopher Wheeldon), “Symphonie Classique” (Ib Andersen) and “Off Screen” (Alejandro Cerrudo). The latter is a Ballet Arizona premiere, and the Andersen work a world premiere.

Ballet Arizona describes “Polyphonia” as “a moody piece that infuses classic ballet steps with modern concepts” and notes that “Symphonie Classique” is Andersen’s first classical or “Tutu” ballet, which focuses on “the form and technique” of its dancers. “Off Screen” explores the emotions music evokes in movie goers — including “fear, drama, love and comedy.”

The Mark Morris Dance Group & Music Ensemble performs April 5 & 6 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — which notes that “Mark Morris has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and Baryshnikov and choreographed more than 100 works for American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and his own group of dancers.”

Their Scottsdale performance features “Italian Concerto” with music by Bach, as well as “Candleflowerdance” with music by Stravinsky — plus “Silouettes” (“a competitive and playful duet”), “Excursions” (music by Samuel Barber) and “Grand Duo” (“a tribal group piece inspired by Lou Harrison’s thrilling score”).

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange performs “The Matter of Origins” April 11 at ASU Gammage in Tempe. Lerman, a recipient of the MacArthur “genius” fellowship, will be leaving the company at the end of June to pursue independent projects — though she will continue her involvement as “Choreographer Emeritus” of the renamed “Dance Exchange.”

“The Matter of Origins” — which is being presented as part of the ongoing  “ASU Origins Project” — is described as “a performance, a conversation, a floor show, a quiz show and a chance to meet big minds.” Pre- and post-show activities are being held in the ASU Gammage lobby. Those who attend the “Phoenix Fringe Festival” can save $10 on “The Matter of Origins” by using the code “FRINGE.”

Center Dance Ensemble, the resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix, performs “American Voices” twice on April 23 — and during April 20 & 21 “Herberger Lunch Time Theater” events.

“American Voices” is Center Dance Ensemble’s “annual celebration of National Poetry Month with new choreography to the words of America’s greatest poets.” National Poetry Month (held each April) was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Its goals include bringing “poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways.”

Remember too, that spring recitals for various dance schools in the Valley are right around the corner. Buy tickets early and often if you’re keen on supporting the next generation of dancers. It’d be a shame to need a detour down the road only to discover they’ve all disappeared.

— Lynn

Note: If students from your dance company or school are performing a spring recital you’d like to share with our readers, please comment below to let them know. And feel free to send rehearsal photos to rakstagemom@gmail.com for possible inclusion in an upcoming post (please include name of photographer if available).

Coming up: Dance companies announce new seasons, Valley theater companies hold spring fundraisers, Art books for kids


A summer camp tale

Valley mom and dancer Kriti Agarwal has enjoyed summers in India, Dubai and America

Chandler mom Kriti Agarwal says she eagerly seeks local summer camps that will help her two young children “develop their social and mental skills.”

Agarwal recalls spending her childhood in India and her “formative years” in Dubai before coming to America to earn an undergraduate degree in business management and economics — and an M.B.A. with an emphasis in technology management.

“Growing up internationally in the Gulf,” she says, “I used to look forward to summer camps.”

Seems the appeal was threefold. Summer camp meant no more school for a while, gave Agarwal a chance to enjoy diverse activities and beat the heck out of “just droning to sleep in books!”

Her summer camp experiences included arts and crafts, sports and “personality development” (think public speaking, drama, elocution and dance).

The dance stuck with her big time. After training from the age of six in contemporary, folk and modern dance styles — and enjoying formal training in two traditional Indian dance styles (Kathak and Bharatnatyam) — Agarwal went on to start her own dance studio called “Kriti Dance.”

Enjoy Bollywood style dance during the Phoenix Suns half-time on Fri, March 18

Agarwal’s studio offers all sorts of dance classes for children, teens and adults — and her dancers have performed during several Phoenix Suns half-times.

Your next opportunity to enjoy a bit of Bollywood during a Suns half-time will be Fri, March 18. The game starts at 7pm at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

It just so happens that basketball was part of her many summer camp adventures — along with soccer, horseback riding and swimming.

You get the feeling while watching her dance (check her website for video) that she has the energy and flexibility to kick, dribble, back stroke and ride a horse all in one fell swoop.

While most of us are whining about Arizona summers, Agarwal recalls summers spent in the Gulf region — noting that “the only place hotter is the earth’s core, or perhaps sitting on erupting lava.”

Seems her many summer camp activities took place indoors, where fans and air conditioning were plentiful — thanks to the “scorching heat” she says the Gulf and Arizona have in common.

Still, it isn’t the heat that Agarwal most often recalls of her summer camp days. Instead, she reflects on the “positive impact” summer camps have had on her life.

The next adult/teen workshop at Kriti Dance begins March 6

Agarwal credits her own summer camp dance experiences with fueling a lifelong passion for dance — and hopes the summer programs offered by Kriti Dance will “instill confidence” in children and adults who’ll go on to explore plenty of new activities.

But what I admire most of all, truth be told, is her admission that ice cream was another summer camp lure.

It’s certainly at the top of my checklist.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Raising Arizona Kids’ 2011 Camp Fair

Coming up: More Valley dance delights

Photos courtesy of Kriti Dance

Presidents and performing arts

2010 Kennedy Center Honors (Bill T. Jones, far left, President Obama, far right) Photo: Joan Marcus

I got to musing about presidents and the performing arts recently after learning about an upcoming performance at ASU Gammage that explores perspectives on Abraham Lincoln and the civil rights movement.

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company brings “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” to ASU Gammage in Tempe for a single performance on Fri, March 5. The title is taken from Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

2010 Kennedy Center honoree Bill T. Jones (Photo: Ron Sachs-Pool for Getty Images)

Bill T. Jones is described as “one of the most celebrated choreographer/  directors in the world.”

He received a MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1994, a 2007 Tony Award for his choreography of “Spring Awakening” and a 2010 Tony Award for his choregraphy of “Fela!” (a musical he also directed).

Jones is also a 2010 Kennedy Center honoree — as are Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.

With this work — a “fusion of dialogue, dance, multi-media, original and traditional music” — Jones is “seeking a way to articulate if not reconcile the view of Abraham Lincoln he had as a young boy growing up during the civil rights struggle.”

A photo on his website showing Jones standing in front of Lincoln’s carefully preserved hat gives a sense of the poignancy of his ongoing encounter with Lincoln’s ideas, words and actions.

It’s a far cry (or meow) from this season’s earlier Lincoln-related piece presented by Stray Cat Theatre in Tempe. But both demonstrate the ongoing fascination of performance artists with presidents and politics.

We’re rather cynical about holidays around here, so I joked with my daughter Lizabeth after hearing a song from the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” on the radio recently that we should run right out and buy a copy of the original cast recording as a mutual Valentine’s Day gift. (For sweeter holiday fare, follow the adventures of the Blomquist Family.)

Last year Valley theater-goers enjoyed political performance art in the form of “Capitol Steps” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and “Second City Does Arizona” presented by Arizona Theatre Company at the Herberger Theater Center (their latest offering is “Sex and the Second City 2.0,” coming in March).

The Valley welcomed Ed Asner performing “FDR” last year to benefit the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, and the Cort Theatre on Broadway was home for a time to “You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush” starring Will Ferrell.

But I’m particularly excited about the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performance because it sounds like a beautiful blend of storytelling with stagecraft.

There’s nothing like live performance art that leaves you not only entertained, but inspired. Pensive yet pushing forward. Screaming, perhaps. But also dreaming. Wondering and working hard to forge a reality more fitting of our personal and collective calling.

— Lynn

Note: Poet Maya Angelou (for whom President Obama’s sister was named) will perform at ASU Gammage in Tempe Sun, March 20, at 3pm (with a special appearance by “Broadway in the Hood“). Angelou is one of 15 people recently awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Learn more at www.uniquelives.com.

Coming up: Art goes Irish!, Musings on modern dance, Valley student directs his first one-act play

From Celtic dance to chorus line

Students from the Celtic Dance Academy, which performs An Irish Nutcracker this weekend

My husband, James, was surprised to find me watching a performance of San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker” on PBS Sunday evening with the sound barely audible.

“What,” he asked, “you have all the music memorized?” Well, yes. Pretty much.

I’ve spent many a December stage mothering young performers in the Ballet Arizona production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix — where every note is another cue.

Time to help three children adjust their mouse heads. Adhere bright red circle stickers to cheeks of toy soldiers. Add wings and halos to dancers donning flowing angel gowns.

The performers and volunteers don’t see the production taking place. They experience only the music, exquisitely attuned to each new measure.

So I was delighted to learn of “An Irish Nutcracker,” being performed by the Celtic Dance Academy Sat, Dec 18, at the Mesa Arts Center — at both 3pm and 7:30pm.

It pairs the classic Nutcracker story with a journey through the “the land of Tir Na Nog where fairies, flowers and gypsies dance to Irish tunes.” So now I can enjoy seeing both the traditional ballet as well as a charming Celtic interpretation.

An Irish Nutcracker is one of several holiday dance performances you can enjoy in the Valley

Many of the Valley’s holiday dance traditions are covered in earlier “Stage Mom” posts — but I’m pleased to share another couple of dance events taking place this weekend at Mesa Arts Center.

Campbell’s Dance Studio presents “The Night Before Christmas” Sat, Dec 18, at 4pm. It’s the story of a family who’ve no presents on Christmas Eve — but discover instead that they know the true meaning of Christmas.

AZ Desert Dance presents “The Night Before Christmas” — featuring “a trip through your favorite mall” — Sat, Dec 18, at 7pm.

Those of you reading the fine print may suspect I’ve erred given overlapping times for events at the same venue. But never fear — because the MAC is home to several performing arts venues (and visual arts spaces), there’s often more than a single event taking place at any given time. Nifty.

There’s also plenty of classic dance on the Valley horizon once this holiday season has come and gone.

A Chorus Line” comes to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix Jan 13-16, 2011. The tour also stops at the Mesa Arts Center Jan 11-12.

Broadway buffs don’t need the breakdown, but those not familiar with the show should know that it’s the tale of 17 dancers auditioning for a musical — something they’ve dreamed of, and worked for, most of their lives.

A Chorus Line comes to two Valley venues during January 2011

“Lord of the Dance” comes to the Orpheum Theater Jan 28-29, 2011. Michael Flatley originated the “Lord” role and now serves as artistic director of the production — which couples traditional and modern forms of dance. Think fast, fancy footwork and spirited tunes.

Stay tuned for word of more dance delights coming to the Valley — and drop a line if your child’s school, dance studio or community group is presenting a dance performance that you’d like to share with our readers.

The best dancers are those we call daughter, sister, brother or son — mother, father, teacher or friend.

— Lynn

Coming up: “A Night at the Museum” and other galas to benefit the arts

Dance with a holiday twist

The early bird may catch the worm, but latecomers sometimes get the warm fuzzies.

If you’ve yet to purchase your tickets to see the Radio City Rockettes perform their “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at Jobing.com Arena, take heart.

Tickets purchased for any of the four shows on Dec 1-2 will result in a $2 donation to the Ronald McDonald House Charities when patrons get tickets through Ticketmaster using the code “RMHC.”

Radio City Rockette Mary Cavett from Tucson visits with children at Ronald McDonald House (Photo: Scott Baxter)

Mary Cavett, originally from Tucson, was one of several Rockettes to visit the original Ronald McDonald House in August — and is proud to be performing audience favorites like “Dance of the Wooden Soldiers” here in her home state.

Local dance companies also offer plenty of family-friendly options.

This weekend you can enjoy a performance by students with the Arizona School of Classical Ballet, the School of Ballet Arizona and the Metropolitan Arts Institute.

Arizona students join forces for a fundraising performance this weekend

Their “Winter Fairy Tales” takes place Sun, Nov 21, at 2pm and 6pm — at the newly renovated Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

If you’ve yet to see the new space, this is the perfect opportunity to couple a tour with supporting the Valley’s young talent.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen,” based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen — having loved my years as a backstage mom when my daughters danced with Dance Theater West in Phoenix.

"Frances Smith Cohen's Snow Queen" returns to the Herberger stage in December

“Snow Queen” is presented by Center Dance Ensemble, the resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center, Dec 4-19. It’s full of charming characters, costumes and set pieces.

The holidays are about giving — so remember those in need this season. Support resources like the Ronald McDonald House and others near and dear to your heart.

And make time to honor the work of Arizona children and teens involved with the performing arts. For these are the creative, disciplined and hard-working citizens who will help us all dance into the coming decades.

— Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive list of holiday-related events for families, check print and online calendar listings from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Also watch for updates to this post as I learn of additional holiday dance performances.

Coming up: Valley theaters offering holiday fare — from East Valley Children’s Theatre to Valley Youth Theatre; Valley student and acrobat performs with “Cirque Dreams Illumination”

The week’s hidden art treasures

The week’s most heralded events are often splashed across our local newspapers and noted during television newscasts.

This week they include “Cirque Dreams Illumination” at the Mesa Arts Center and the opening of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” produced by Arizona Theatre Company — the first a family-friendly event and the second a “mature themes and language” piece.

World music recording artist Scott Schaefer plays didgeridoo, flute and more this Saturday at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior.

Dozens of kid-friendly activities, arts-related and otherwise, are always available online via the Raising Arizona Kids magazine online calendar (there’s a print calendar in each monthly magazine too).

So what I’ll feature here (and at the beginning of each week) are things you might not have discovered yet — including visual and performing arts presented by Valley schools and other organizations.

Enjoy "The Nutcracker Sweet Tea" event with Ballet Etudes at the Wright House in Mesa this Saturday

Some, like the musical “Urinetown” opening Thursday at Paradise Valley Community College, are best for the mature teen and adult set.

Others, like the Ballet Etudes “Nutcracker Sweet Tea” this weekend, are fun for all ages.

The Phoenix Art Museum presents a children’s event (for ages 5-12 with their adult companions) titled  “Define Your Style!” on Sat, Nov 13, from noon-3pm. After touring the “Extending the Runway” fashion collection on exhibit at the PAM, kids will design their own “artistic attire” and use found objects to create a cigar box purse or secret treasure box.

Three of Arizona’s charter schools specializing in the arts present student performance art this week.

Tonight (Mon, Nov 8 ), you can enjoy the chamber singers and concert choir from Arizona School for the Arts performing a 7pm concert at Central United Methodist Church in Phoenix.

Metropolitan Arts Institute presents an Arizona theater premiere in downtown Phoenix Nov 11-13

Metropolitan Arts Institute presents its fall theater production, the Arizona premiere of “Little Brother,” Nov 11-13 at the Playhouse on the Park in Phoenix.

New School for the Arts and Academics presents a dance performance Nov 12 & 13, and I’ll share more details as I learn them.

Another dance option for Nov 12 & 13 is the “SMCC Dance Concert” at the South Mountain Community College Performance Hall — which features dance performance by SMCC students, local high schools and area dance companies.

Music lovers can head to Superior for the Boyce Thompson Arboretum “Live Music Festival” from 11am-5pm on Sat, Nov 13. The event features frontier ballads, Midwestern humor, world music and “olde-time Americana” by the Close Enough String Band. 

Finally, in conjunction with the Phoenix Symphony’s “Rediscovered Masters” series featuring music of composers stifled or silenced during the Holocaust, you can hear a presentation on “The Jews of Central Europe” either Wed, Nov 10, at Temple Beth Isreal or Thurs, Nov 11, at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.

PVCC presents a musical with a social justice theme and one of my favorite love songs

If I’ve overlooked a hidden treasure being exhibited or performed by your organization or venue this week, feel free to share event details in a brief comment below.

And watch for weekly rundowns in future posts — which will replace my Friday arts roundups.

That way I can share both weekday and weekend events to inspire more arts adventures with family and friends.

— Lynn

ASU remounts "And What She Found There" this Tuesday night only

Update: Just heard from ASU about a one-time only remount of a work titled “And What She Found There” taking place Tues, Nov 9 at 7pm at the ASU Lyceum Theatre in Tempe. Info at www.mainstage.asu.edu or 480-965-6447.

Note: Always call ahead to check event details — including location, date/time, ticketing requirements, age guidelines and such.

Coming up: Recent adventures with the Arizona Opera, Playing for Change, the Heard Museum North Scottsdale and the Arizona Science Center; “Hairspray” meets Childsplay?

My Herberger happy dance

Go ahead — give a twirl. You know you want to. Because today marks the grand re-opening ceremony of the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. It’s newly renovated and I’m doing my happy dance.

Tomorrow I can dance during the Herberger Theater Center’s Festival for the Arts, though I may let others do it for me. Get ready for a collective community arts party of sorts as longime lovers of the Herberger join newer fans for a day of play.

The festival features food, performances, art, live music, film festival shorts and a children’s activity area. Tickets are just $5 for the 13 & up set (ages 12 & under are free).

At some point, I’ll need to hang up my dancing shoes and slide into my running shoes so I can also get to some of the other arts events around the Valley this weekend. Here’s a rundown…


CONDER/dance presents “Dance Downtown” on Fri, Oct 1. It features “dance, film and art on the grounds of the majestic Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix.


Century Arts Foundation presents the 10th annual “Scottsdale International Film Festival” for five days starting Fri, Oct 1. Features films that “foster a meaningful understanding of the world’s cultures, lifestyles, religions, and ethnicities.” Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (opening ceremony) and Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre in Scottsdale.


The Deer Valley Rock Art Center presents a free lecture by Reba Wells Grandrud titled “Historical Graffiti: Arizona’s Own ‘Independence Rock.'” Features information on an Arizona bluff where several people well-known in the history of the Southwest carved their names or initials. DVRAC in Glendale.

The Heard Museum presents their 7th annual “Spirit of the Heard” award ceremony on Fri, Oct 1. The 2010 ceremony will honor revered Taos Pueblo elder, Tony Ryena — and kick off their “2010 Native American Recognition Days.” Heard Museum in Phoenix.


The Heard Museum presents members of the Arizona Opera performing “Little Warrior Comes Home” on Sun, Oct 3. Features work written by Navajo scholar Evangeline Parsons-Yazzie of Northern Arizona University. Heard Museum in Phoenix.

The Phoenix Symphony presents “Pops Adventures Around the World” Fri/Sat/Sun, Oct 1-3. The two-hour concert, conducted by Jack Everly, features music of Australia, the UK, the USA and Italy. Symphony Hall in Phoenix.


ASU Lyric Opera Theatre presents “Tartuffe” on Fri/Sat, Oct 1-2 (and Fri/Sat, Oct 8-9). Features the contemporary comedic opera (opera is only rumored to be old and stuffy) based on Molere’s 17th century French comedy. Evelyn Smith Music Theatre at ASU in Tempe.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “For Adults: Puppet Slam” (for the 18+ set) on Fri/Sat, Oct 1-2. Features “quirky edgy puppet shows by Arizona’s leading quirky edgy puppeteers.” GAPT in Phoenix.


Changing Hands Bookstore presents “Costume Storytime: Wild Thing” on Sat, Oct 2. Family event features a storyteller reading Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” while a “Wild Thing” visits and poses for photos (bring your camera). CHB in Tempe.

South Mountain Community College presents “Stories for Hispanic Heritage Month” on Fri, Oct 1. Features stories from the SMCC Storytelling Institute. SMCC in Phoenix.

Visual Arts

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum presents “Art Institute Student Show” Sat., Oct 2 through Sun., Dec 5. Features “a variety of media and a multitude of Sonoran Desert subject matter.” ASDM in Tucson.

Artlink Phoenix presents “First Friday” on Fri, Oct 1. The “nation’s largest, self-guided art walk” features access to “more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related spaces” in Phoenix. Trollies leave from the Phoenix Art Museum starting at 6pm. (Museums open during the walk include the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and others.)

Check the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine for daily listing of family-friendly events including performing arts, exhibits and much more. It’s a great place to find storytimes, arts and crafts, outdoor/nature experiences and more. (Always call ahead to confirm event details, ticket prices and such.)

If, like me, you get all your family’s dancing shoes at Barry’s Capezio in Scottsdale, give my regards to Barry and family — and warn them that I may be the one doing the happy dance this weekend. Those who don’t dart out the door with dread will give a good giggle.


Note: The Herberger Theater Center is home to three resident companies — Actors Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company and Center Dance Ensemble. Other companies who use the Herberger Theater Center include Valley Youth Theater and iTheatre Collaborative. The center also features a youth outreach program and the Steele Pavilion Art Gallery.

Coming up: Theater musings from Diamond Head, Dance performance to benefit domestic violence prevention, Theater by and for youth, Fall break arts camps