Tag Archives: DWTS

Dancing with the students

Enjoy dance at Scottsdale Community College on Dec 2 & 3

As a new “Dancing with the Stars” champion enjoys that shiny disco ball trophy, dancers closer to home will be working just as hard for a less visible reward — readying for upcoming performances featuring “dancing with the students.”

Lest all you DWTS viewers suffer in coming weeks from the absence of opportunities to watch live dance performance, I’ve put together a roundup of Valley dance productions featuring local dance students, faculty and alumni.

Scottsdale Community College presents “Grace, Power and Force” Dec. 2 & 3 at 8pm. The production is a collaboration of the three resident dance companies at SCC. Instinct Dancecorps will perform works by SCC faculty member Angela Rosenkrans and guest choreographers Mike Esperanza, Chad Michael Hall and Keith Johnson. The SCC Moving Company will perform works by faculty members Angela Rosenkrans and Lisa Thorngren, and guest artist Ann Reinking. Scottsdale Arizona Jazz Ensemble will perform works by faculty member Jennifer McKusick and guest choreographer Annie Kim. Tickets are not sold prior to the night of the show. However, reservations can be made by calling (480) 423-6600 or emailing karryn.allen@sccmail.maricopa.edu. Tickets are $5-$10.

Enjoy student, faculty and guest artist dance at Paradise Valley Community College Dec 2 & 3

Paradise Valley Community College presents their “2011 Fall Dance Showcase” Dec. 2 & 3 at 7:30pm. The production features choreography and performance by PVCC students, faculty and guest artists. Tickets are $6-12.

The School of Dance at Arizona State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts presents “Emerging Artists II” Dec. 2-4 at the ASU Dance Lab. The performance features new works by MFA candidates Ashlee Ramsey and Whitney Waugh “based on original research into audience interaction, social perception, and how we engage with the moving body and the stories it tells.” Tickets are $8-$16.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents a “Student Dance Showcase” Dec. 9 & 10 at 8pm. It features dance students performing dances choreographed by current students. Tickets are $5.

Mesa Community College presents a “2011 Dance Classes Showcase” Dec. 9 at 7pm. Tickets are $3 (scholarship donation).

Glendale Community College presents its “Faculty/Alumni Dance Performance 2011” Dec. 9-11 (times vary). Must be age 5 + to attend. Tickets are free.

Enjoy dance at Glendale Community College Dec. 9-11

I know it’s just not the same without all those tasteful outfits, classy judges, sophisticated tunes and original dance moves, but you’ll be okay. And local dancers will feel like champions thanks for your enthusiasm and applause. Disco ball be damned.

— Lynn

Note: If your college or university is presenting a dance performance this month or next, feel free to comment below to let our readers know. Always check details before attending.

Coming up: Creating holiday dance memories, “Parade tales,” Thanksgiving week in NYC, Giving thanks for…


Let’s stomp!

Andres (or Andre) Fernandez, the middle child in a family with three boys, says he’s been performing publicly since he was 11 or 12 years old. Seems the trio of brothers, raised in Honolulu, are all quite talented in both the song and dance department.

First they sang at family parties and such, but have long since transitioned to the stage. For a time they had a dance group called the “Body Gesture Boys,” which specialized in hop hop. It was the ‘80s, recalls Fernandez, and break dancing was all the rage. “Dad was the video guy,” recalls Fernandez, “and mom handled our promotions.”

Fernandez also studied music in school, playing trombone, xylophone and “some drums” in the all-school band. He did the band thing from 7th to 12th grade, and then attended college for two years on a cheerleading scholarship. Soon he had a son, now a senior in high school, and found it hard to juggle school, work and parenting. So college had to give.

Today he’s the proud father of a daughter too, who is just nine years old and “into ballroom dance.” She has a beautiful voice, says Fernandez, but prefers to dance rather than sing at this point. Recently, he adds, she started learning the samba. He’s not afraid to admit that they like watching “Dancing with the Stars” together, or to share that he’s rooting for Ricki Lake.

STOMP comes to ASU Gammage next month

Fernandez first saw “Stomp” in 1996, while his older brother was appearing in “Miss Saigon.” Like many families full of performers, Fernandez seems to mark time by recalling which brother did what gig when. “Stomp” was touring in Hawaii at the time and only single seats were available, so the trio went together but sat far apart. Still, it made an impact.

“How do you teach somebody to do that,” wondered Fernandez. “That’s totally crazy – amazing!” Three months later one of his brothers heard that “Stomp” would be holding auditions in L.A.

Turns out there were actually six open casting calls taking place at around the same time. Fernandez nixed auditioning for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Phantom of the Opera” – but decided to give the others a try.

The “Starlight Express” people were looking for triple pirouettes and such, something Fernandez hadn’t done much of with his break dancing rather than ballet background. Folks from “The Lion King” wanted African modern dance. Again, it wasn’t his vibe. But the “Stomp” show mixes percussion and dance, things Fernandez does with ease and enthusiasm.

Performers who auditioned for “Stomp” had to learn a set routine – then add their own solo when it came time to strut their stuff. One of Fernandez’ brothers urged him to punch it up with a back handstand, but Fernandez worried the move had been left undone so long that he might not be able to nail it. Fernandez threw it in, but his instincts proved spot on.

“My hand gave out and I landed on my head,” recalls Fernandez. “That didn’t go as I thought it would.” Fernandez was shocked when he, not his brothers, got a callback. Apparently only three people got that call, and Fernandez felt shocked by making the short list. The audition process involved several call backs over the course of three days, and Fernandez learned a month later that he’d been cast. “When can you be available,” he recalls them asking. Fernandez’ answer was “now.”

Fernandez left Honolulu in May of ’97 to begin training for “Stomp” in New York. His first show was just five weeks later, in July. He’s now in his 14th year as a cast member of “Stomp” – and says he’s played all eight roles in the show. “Even,” he adds, “the women’s roles.” If his passion for the work had waned, it doesn’t show. Fernandez sounds like just the kind of spirited person and performer you want to see on stage. Drumroll, anyone?

 — Lynn

Note: Click here for information on this and other shows coming to ASU Gammage this season. Their December offerings include “Stomp” (Dec. 28-31) and “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” (De6. 6-11). Want to enjoy a bit of percussion before “Stomp” rolls into town? Head to Chandler-Gilbert Community College for a free “Percussion Ensemble Concert” (with specials guests — the CGCC Latin percussion ensemble) Mon, Nov. 21 at 7:30pm.

Coming up: Neanderthals make nice?

Photo: Junichi Takahashi

Boeing, Boeing, gone…

I started Wednesday morning like many others — checking on the day’s news. Never mind that Nancy Grace will be dancing with Tristan MacManus on DWTS this season. My eyes went straight to a story about companies that pay less in federal taxes than they do in CEO salaries.

The New York Times reported Wednesday on 25 of them, including Boeing. About that same time, an e-alert from Phoenix Theatre crossed my virtual desk — reminding me that opportunities to see their production of “Boeing, Boeing” will be gone after Sept 11. The Broadway production won a 2008 Tony Award for best revival of a play.

My daughter Lizabeth will be seeing the final performance of “Catch Me If You Can” on Broadway this weekend after flying back East to start college theater studies. It’s the tale of a teenager who dons different identities, including airplane pilot, after running away from home in search of a more glamorous life.

If there’s an airplane aficionado in your family, consider a visit to the Commemorative Air Force Museum at Falcon Field in Mesa — a place I often visited with my son Christopher, now 22, when he was a little boy enamored by anything with wheels. It’s got a cool collection of planes and other military items.

In coming days, we’ll all be tempted to focus again on the planes used to take thousands of lives ten years ago on 9/11. Instead, let’s honor the many heroes of that day, including those aboard United Airlines flight 93 who saved our nation from even greater tragedy.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the national 9/11 Memorial, visit www.911memorial.org

Coming up: Remembering 9/11, Bunny tales, More “Dance Moms” musings

Art in motion

Stephen Petronio Dance Company performs Nov 18 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

When I learned that Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is offering all sorts of four-performance packages, including an “Art in Motion” dance option, I decided to go in search of Valley dance offerings for the 2011/12 season.

First I uncovered a couple of summer offerings — including “From Africa: Bate Nico Dancers” at Chandler Center for the Arts (July 29) and “Arizona’s Got Dance! National Dance Showcase” at Tempe Center for the Arts (July 31).

Tucson high school students will perform in the vaudevillian song-and-dance musical “Chicago” July 28 & 30 at the Temple of Art and Music in Tucson. It’s part of the Arizona Theatre Company’s “Summer On Stage” program (which also includes “A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Come Labor Day, you can enjoy 2009 World Hoop Dancing Champion Brian Hammill (Ho Chuck) at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. Ballet Forklorico Quetzalli-AZ performs during the “12th Annual Chandler C3HR Mariachi Festival” Sept. 24 at Chandler Center for the Performing Arts.

“Ballet Under the Stars” heads to various Valley venues, including Tempe Center for the Arts — where dancers from Ballet Arizona will perform a blend of classical and contemporary works Sept 23 in a casual amphitheater setting (bring your blankets and lawn chairs).

Desert Dance Theatre presents the “Arizona Dance Festival” Oct 11 at Tempe Center for the Arts. Stay tuned to calendars for this and other venues, which often host recitals featuring students from local dance academies.

Trisha Brown Dance Company performs at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts near Valentine's Day 2012

Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix presents their free Festival of the Arts Oct 1. Featured dance performers include Arizona Youth Ballet, Scorpius Dance Theatre, Dance Shoppe-Performance Company, EPIK Dance Company, Grand Canyon University Dance Ensemble, Kamalah Tribal Dance Company and Center Dance Ensemble.

Center Dance Ensemble is the resident modern dance company at Herberger Theater Center. Their vibrant 2011/12 season features “There is a Time for Dance” (Oct), “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen” (Dec), “Dance AZ/100” (March) and “American Voices” (April). They’re also hosting a “Spirit of the Season” event in December.

Mesa Arts Center presents a diverse slate of dance works this season — including Chinese acrobatic dance, Native American song & dance, “Blast!” from Broadway, urban Latin dance theater, tango with Cheryl Burke and Irish cabaret. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a “must see” for the serious dance afficianado, performs at MAC in March.

While they’re in town, the Contra-Tiempo Urban Latin Dance Theater will conduct a two-week residency, teaching the basics of Salsa dancing to Valley students and selecting 20 elementary-age students to perform at their evening show on Feb 11. Alvin Ailey dancers will offer master classes as well as one-day workshops during a March 12-16 “Spring Break Dance Intensive,” then return to perform at MAC March 24 & 25.

Many of our local dance companies offer rich education and outreach programs as well — so be sure and contact folks like Center Dance Ensemble and Ballet Arizona to learn about their many offerings for Valley students and youth.

Batsheva Dance Company performs at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts next year

Batsheva Dance Company performs at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts next March

My youngest daughter Lizabeth, who starts college this fall, studied with both Dance Theater West (the academy of Center Dance Ensemble and Storybook Ballet Theater) and Ballet Arizona for a total of more than ten years.

Though she’s not pursuing dance as a career, I know all those years of studying, performing and watching creative movement honed her body, mind and spirit.

— Lynn

Note: Photos courtesy of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (please note that the Stephen Petronia “Underland” performance “includes adult content”).

Coming up: Local dance studio owner on Lifetime’s controversial “Dance Moms” series