Tag Archives: Merce Cunningham

Let’s dance…or not

Let’s dance. Or not, perhaps. For some of us, the kinder thing is to leave the dancing to others. It’s an especially fine month for making that sacrifice as three unique dance performances take to Valley stages.

I’ve had the first of these, a performance by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, on my calendar since Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts first announced their 2010-2011 season.

"Dance of Life" by Edvard Munch

Merce Cunningham was a force in American modern dance for more than fifty years — collaborating with other artists including Andy Warhol, Radiohead and many more.

His company will disband after finishing their current legacy tour “according to the wishes of the late Merce Cunningham.” Their final Scottsdale performance takes place this Thurs, March 10, at 7:30pm.

Dance lovers need to see it. Art afficionados need to see it. And anyone keen on “buying American” needs to see it — because modern dance is one of only four performing art forms to orginate in this country.

Ticket holders can enjoy a free curator-led tour of the “Dance with Camera” exhibition from 6-7pm — just across the way at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

When you visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website, check their “Arts Connect” offerings — which this month includes “Open Dance” with Arizona flamenco teachers Lena and Chris Jacome” (Fri, March 11) and “Dance Class, Observation & Preview with Philadanco” (Sat, March 19).

It’s best, I suppose, that I didn’t learn of this next one until just recently — since I’d only feel more frustrated by my inability to be two places at once.

Brigham Young University Theatre Ballet presents “Fairy Tales and Fantasy” at the Mesa Arts Center Thurs, March 10, at 7pm.

They’ll perform highlights and favorite scenes from “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Paquita” and “La Bayadere” — featuring both classic and original choreography.

"The Dance" by Pablo Picasso

Those who go can extend the fairy tale theme by also planning an outing to the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa — which presents an exhibit titled “Fairy Tales, Frogs & Fables” through May 29.

Finally, dance lovers can enjoy “Modern Masters” performed by Ballet Arizona March 24-27 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix.

Tickets to opening night (with some restrictions) are available through Fri, March 11, when ordered using the password “MASTERS.”

“Modern Masters” includes a world premiere (“Symphonie Classique,” choreographed by Ib Andersen) and a Ballet Arizona premiere (“Off Screen,” choreographed by Alejandro Cerrudo) — and also features choreography by Christopher Wheeldon.

As thrilled as I am with these dance offerings, it’s likely that I’ll do some dancing of my own as well. But never fear — I think I can manage to keep it off YouTube, for now.

— Lynn

Note: Watch for April dance offerings that include “The Comfort of Strangers” (the first full-length work from CONDER/dance) and “American Voices” (an annual celebration of National Poetry Month by Centre Dance Ensemble).

Coming up: Music meets food drive, science meets culture, theater meets zoo


A labor of love

Last week, after driving my college-age son Christopher to an appointment, I told him I was off to run errands. Bank. Drugstore. Grocery store. All the fun stuff.

I certainly meant well, but simply couldn’t resist the lure of the Scottsdale Civic Center as I drove past. There’s a library, a museum of contemporary art, winding park paths, a museum store, a performing arts center and restaurants galore.

If you can read this, thank a teacher -- and a librarian

I still had the Wickenberg Public Library, recently closed due to budget cuts, on the brain. I wanted to visit my own local libary, and pause a while to reflect by the giant quill and inkwell sculptures near the entrance.

View from a balcony that overlooks the corresponding ink well for this giant golden quill

The whole area — part of Scottsdale’s “Old Town” — is full of places for peaceful reflection. Think park benches, colorful gardens and calming water features.

Old Town Scottsdale is a no-GPS-required zone that's perfect for pedestrians

This was a favorite haunt when Christopher was first learning to take pictures

Plenty of tables and benches make this a great place to enjoy picnic meals or relaxed conversation

While walking through the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (within easy walking distance of the library), I heard the cheerful voices of children — and soon followed the sound to a small theater where students from a nearby elementary school were about to enjoy a film about dance.

It was just steps away from the large open space where both my daughters have performed with fellow Dance Theater West summer campers.

There’s also a small art exhibit space nearby, the “young@art” gallery, which currently features an exhibit titled “Imagining Dance” — with sculpture, paintings, video of dance performance and more.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents dance on stage and on exhibit

Imagining Dance exhibit at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

I picked up a brochure for the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to discover diverse dance offerings coming soon — including the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Naturally I hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop on the way out (there’s another gift shop just across the sidewalk at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art).

Know any dancers looking for a unique dance bag?

The best museum stores offer serious and humorous fare

It’s a fun place to find teacher gifts, unique items for children and all sorts of arts-related fare — and I love shopping where I can support local arts and culture.

But my fondest memories of Scottsdale Civic Center involve adventures with my young children — reading in the children’s section of the library, taking pictures together of flowers and public art, watching performances by artists we admire.

My son was apparently very eager to explore it even before his late August birth 21 years ago. I felt the first pangs of labor while having dinner with my husband at a joint that’s since been replaced with an Indian restaurant — and walked for some time around the grounds hoping to speed up the process.

This balcony once housed the restaurant where I felt my first labor pangs

While the walking may have helped, it wasn’t a quick fix. I didn’t head to the hospital until later that night after my water broke and the cramping grew hard to ignore.

I’d chosen a small stuffed animal — “Big Bird” of Sesame Street — for my focal point during labor (the thing that supposedly takes your mind off the pain if you stare at it hard enough).

With Jennifer, our second child, I used a giant clock. The moving hands were more distracting than the stillness of a stuffed animal.

With Lizabeth, our last, it was the row of tiny buttons on James’ shirt (by then I was too busy to think ahead in the childbirth department).

But it occurred to me as I passed the giant LOVE sculpture at the Scottsdale Civic Center, that I should have used a replica of this work (I hadn’t yet discovered them for sale at the SMOCA gift shop).

This iconic sculpture sits on a lawn at Scottsdale Civic Center

As my children continue their journey through adulthood, I suspect these detours to the places we’ve so often enjoyed together will happen more and more often.

Labors of love stay with us forever.

— Lynn

Note: The art teacher I met that day, from Zuni Hills Elementary School, recently got in touch with me — so I look forward to learning more about their art program.

Coming up: The fine art of friendship, Got graffiti?, Broadway tales, Copper rush, Three necessary things

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.


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

Sexy in the city?

I was thrilled to discover yesterday that fellow RAK blogger Debra Rich Gettleman—who writes “Unmotherly Insights” amidst other gigs that include parenting, acting, playwriting and more—made the daily ‘best of blogs’ for WordPress for the second time.

Big '80s hair is back...But is it sexy?

I shared the news with my husband and daughters over dinner as we celebrated Jennifer’s move to on-campus housing, and we got to wondering whether a “Stage Mom” post might fare as well if I jazzed up some of my titles (as if yesterday’s “potluck” teaser wasn’t exciting enough).

Debra’s post (titled “Sexy mama!”) features a photo of the orange and pink Dunkin’ Donuts logo. Jennifer suggested I try a little “social experiment”–punctuating my posts with words like “sexy” for a week or so to see what happens.

I started wondering whether any of my upcoming topics might actually warrant this description. Classes offered by private performing arts studios? Nope. Museum-related careers? Nope. Teaching tolerance through the arts? Nope.

Then it came to me…

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts recently announced their upcoming season. If you think of “sexy” as intriguing, exciting and provocative, this venue clearly qualifies. Those who consider the brain a bonafide erogenous zone may be especially inclined to agree.

One of King Tut's sexier moments?

For the ‘smart equals sexy’ crowd, they’ll present the likes of singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, comedian and banjoist Steve Martin, and Tony-Award winning actor John Lithgow (known to fans of Showtime’s “Dexter” as “The Trinity Killer”).

For the ‘exotic is sexy’ arts lover, there’s the taiko drummers of Kodo—and The Mystical Arts of Tibet.

If jazz is what turns you on, get ready for jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, trumpeter Doc Severinsen & El Ritmo de la Vida, the Count Basie Orchestra and The Manhattan Transfer.

Sexy covered by a cat suit

Broadway buffs will delight in performances by Tony Award winners Bernadette Peters (who’ll grace the stage of the Virginia G. Piper Theater for the ARTrageous celebration in December) and Betty Buckley of CATS fame.

Fans of “Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” on SIRIUS XM are no doubt wondering whether the “a-mah-zing” Seth Rudetsky might accompany Buckley on piano, which would merit a “sexy” and “donuts” designation from some theater folk.

If you’ve read a good sampling of my 200 + “Stage Mom” posts (I never miss a day), you can likely guess what my personal favorite for the Center’s upcoming season might be…

It’s the Merce Cunningham Dance Company “Legacy Tour,” which offers your “last opportunity to see this great American dance company perform the choreography of the late Merce Cunningham before it disbands.”

My mother told me long ago that you don’t have to reveal everything to be sexy. And so I’ll offer just a few more peeks at what the Scottsdale Center for the Arts has in store…

Sexy in a Shakespearean sort of way

Film screenings. Holiday shows. Family fare. Classical music. Shakespeare. Rock opera. Political humor. Best-selling authors. Acting workshops. Hispanic heritage celebrations. Native American song and dance. And Scottsdale traditions including “Sunday A’Fair” and the “Scottsdale Arts Festival.”

Holding back a bit also gives me another excuse to go “sexy” with future posts. So stay tuned, and check the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website in the meantime for more juicy details about all things “sexy” in their upcoming season.

When it comes to the Arizona arts scene, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts brings “sexy” to the city…