Tag Archives: Mesa Arts Center

S.W.A.T. Lake

Terpsicore Dance Company performs this weekend at Mesa Arts Center

I’ve seen police officers in all sorts of settings — from patrolling on horseback near “ground zero” in Lower Manhattan to poising radar guns at cars speeding through serene Scottsdale suburbs. But I’ve never, ever seen one dancing in the line of duty. That’s a good thing.

Still, they deserve to have some fun in their everyday lives — so I’m delighted that several accepted the invitation extended by Terpsicore Dance Company to participate in its season finale at Mesa Arts Center this weekend. Seems a part of their “Kinetic Elements” is set aside for a little something called “S.W.A.T. Lake,” featuring police officers from Mesa and Phoenix.

A Terpsicore Dance Company gathering at Mesa Arts Center

Kinetic Elements” is designed to showcase choreography from local and national artists. Expect new works choreographed by Angelina Lin and Joe Nugent. Also Danna Parker, the company’s artistic director. Seems a signature piece titled “Fandago” will be back “by popular demand” to close out the show.

Special guests include musician Grant Ferguson, plus dancers from a professional jazz dance company called MarioCo. Dance and a newly formed organization in the West Valley called Ballet Forme. Also officers brave enough to both protect our streets and take to our stages.

“S.W.A.T. Lake” is a Terpsicore Dance Company partnership with the 100 Club of Arizona, which works to enhance the safety and welfare of public safety officers and firefighters — and to provide immediate financial assistance to the families of those who are seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

Parker says the idea of including police officers and firefighters was a joint brainchild with her boyfriend — and credits a member of the 100 Club with coining the term “S.W.A.T. Lake.” Next year Terpsicore will feature firefighters in a performance dubbed “Cinder-fellas.”

Only a dancing police officer could make this scene more delightful

Parker notes that Terpsicore Dance Company has been bringing contemporary ballet to audiences in the Phoenix metro area for eight seasons, adding that they recently moved to a new studio in downtown Phoenix. Parker describes it as “one of Phoenix’s last standing warehouse buildings” — sharing that the building will “turn 100 years old next year.”

Terpsicore Dance Company, and officers joining them to benefit the 100 Club, perform Sat, June 9 at 7:30pm. Also Sun, June 10 at 2pm. The “Swan Lake” parody blends comedy with choreography by Nicole Olson. Both performances take place inside MAC’s Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse — and folks can click here for ticket information.

— Lynn

Coming up: Art camp with a multicultural vibe

Feelin’ jazzy

The Musical Instrument Museum recently opened this exhibit of jazz instruments

Folks who favor feelin’ jazzy can head over to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix to enjoy a new exhibit featuring all things jazz. Located in the museum’s United States/Canada gallery, the exhibit features “some of jazz history’s most noteworthy instruments.” I’m told its one of the largest genre exhibits in the museum.

The new jazz exhibit includes approximately 20 instruments, many played by jazz greats. Also original, unreleased performance footage of Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Mann, Spyro Gyra, and others from Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. As a Smithsonian affiliate, the MIM was able to collaborate with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to display several loaned objects that’ll be on view through 2014.

Loaned objects featured in the new MIM exhibit include a cornet associated with Louis Armstrong, a clarinet played by Benny Goodman, a trumpet played by Harry James, a clarinet played by Artie Shaw and a trombone played by J. J. Johnson. Also a trumpet mouthpiece and mute used by Miles Davis, a guitar played by Charlie Christian, a drum set played by Lewis Nash and a guitar played by Pat Metheny.

Mesa Arts Center is premiering a new project by Metheny called the Pat Metheny Unity Band, noting that it’ll “feature some of the most sought after young musicians on the pop and jazz scene today.” Think Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams — who’ll perform at MAC with Metheny on Sat, Sept. 29.

Early Jazz exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

A spin through the MIM makes for fun Father’s Day fare, so consider treating dad to an afternoon of jazz if that’s his vibe. While you’re there, buy him a lovely brunch at the MIM Café — and treat him to something jazz-inspired from the MIM Museum Store. Remember too that the MIM’s Music Theater presents concerts featuring jazz and other musical stylings.

While you’re exploring all things jazz, check out jazz offerings at other Valley venues — including those noted below:

  • Tempe Center for the Arts is home to the Lakeshore Jazz Series. Upcoming concerts include Lorraine Feather and Shelly Berg (Sept. 28), Turtle Island Quartet and Tierney Sutton (Oct. 27), and Denise Donatelli (Nov. 16).
  • Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts features several jazz concerts during its 2012-13 season — including Béla Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio (Nov. 23), Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Jan. 18), the John Pizzarelli Quartet (Feb. 14), and McCoy Tyner and his quartet with special guest Joe Lovano (May 4).

Saxophone played by Illinois Jacquet, creator of Texas tenor style

Finally, another option for enjoying all things jazz on Father’s Day — the fourth annual “Father’s Day Big Band Dance” presented by Jazz in AZ. The event takes place Sun, June 17 from 3-7pm at The Scottsdale Plaze Resort — and features Dennis Rowland and the Extreme Decibel Big Band. Event proceeds benefit The Nash, a new Jazz in AZ nonprofit education and performance center located in downtown Phoenix.

Check with Jazz in AZ for additional jazz offerings throughout the state. Their website features links to folks specializing in jazz education, jazz for youth and more. And watch for jazz concerts at your local performing arts venues, schools and colleges. You don’t have to play jazz to dig it.

— Lynn

Coming up: Prescott welcomes bluegrass festival, Art meets antiques

Dance recital roundup

In dance world, December conjures images of “The Nutcracker.” But June is the month for dance recitals, and we’ve got plenty of them here in the Valley. If you’re looking for dance lessons for your child, there’s much to learn from attending the recitals of various dance studios.

Recitals are windows into what studios value. Is the atmosphere warm and welcoming? Is the studio teaching styles of dance your child enjoys? Do event materials convey professionalism? Do participating students and those who teach them demonstrate a love for dance?

Recitals can help you get a feel for which studios might be the best fit for your family. Pick some studios with a compatible vibe and single them out for more study. Explore their websites. Tour their studios. Talk with their directors. You’ll soon get a read on what feels best for your child.

Here’s a sampling of dance recitals in the Phoenix metro area, including two taking place this evening…

All About Dance presents “The Art of Dance” Thurs, May 31 at 6pm. Tempe Center for the Arts. $12-$15. www.allaboutdance-az.com.

Ballet Etudes School of Dance presents “Recital 2012” Thurs, May 31 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. $11. www.balletetudes.net.

Dance Studio 111 presents “The Story” Fri, June 1 and Sat, June 2 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $18-$30. www.dancestudio111.com.

The School of Ballet Arizona presents “Spring Performance 2012” Sun, June 3 at 7pm. Symphony Hall in Phoenix. $34-$74.  www.balletaz.org.

Paula Carr Dance Academy presents “Road Trip Across America!” Sat, June 9 at 3:30pm. Mesa Arts Center. $15. www.pcda.info.

Plumb Performing Arts Center presents “Move 2012” Sat, June 9 at 10am, 2pm and 6pm. Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale. www.plumbperformingartscenter.com.

Studio 3 Performing Arts Academy and Epik Dance present “Generation Pop” Sat, June 9 at 4pm. Mesa Arts Center. $15-$17. www.studio3arts.com and www.epikdanceco.org.

Dance West presents “Dancin’ in the Streets” Sun, June 10 at 4pm. Chandler Center to the Arts. $10-$16. www.tempedancewest.com.

Marilyn Bostic’s Ballet Centre presents “Marilyn Bostic’s Dance Centre Recital” Thurs, June 14 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $16. balletcentre.tripod.com.

Classic Image Dance Co. presents “Greatest Hits Vol. 2” Fri, June 15 at 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. $20-$28. www.classicimagedance.com.

Dance Connection presents “The Dance Awards 2012” Sat, June 16 at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. Mesa Arts Center. www.danceconnectionaz.com.

Tempe Dance Academy presents “Dancing Through the Years: Dance Factory” Sat, June 16 at 2pm. $10-$16. Chandler Center for the Arts. www.tempedance.com.

Tempe Dance Academy presents “Dance Recital” Sat, June 16 at 7pm. Chandler Center for the Arts. $10-$16. www.tempedance.com.

Wagner Dance & Music presents “Toy Box” Sat, June 23 at 7pm. $14-$16. Chandler Center for the Arts. www.wagnerdanceandmusic.com.

Attending dance recitals is an excellent way to support both young artists and the professionals who teach them. After weeks and months of learning and rehearsing recital pieces, young dancers appreciate having large, supportive audiences. So go. Applaud generously. And make a child’s day.

— Lynn

Note: If you’ve got a dance recital in the Phoenix metro area that’s not listed here, please comment below to let our readers know. Always check event details before attending.

Coming up: The CW network premieres its six-week “Breaking Pointe” series

The Story of Hansel and Gretel

EVCT opens a musical called “The Story of Hansel and Gretel” June 14 at Mesa Arts Center (Pictured L to R: Rachel Primrose as Gretel and Leonel Gallego as Hansel)

Fairy tales and fables are big business these days. Soon “Snow White and the Huntsman” will be working the movie theater crowds who’ve already enjoyed a taste of twisted storytelling ala TV shows like “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm.” I do better with the latter since human faces morphing into menacing figures isn’t the sort of imagery I want to carry around in my head.

Emily Trask (L) as Portia and Tony Amendola as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” (2010). Photo by Karl Hugh. Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Our youngest daughter Lizabeth chatted with the actor behind one of my favorite “Once Upon a Time” characters during last weekend’s Phoenix Comicon. She first met Tony Amendola during one of our annual trips to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he rocked the role of Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice.” For some, he’s best known as today’s television version of Geppetto — but others consider him a sci-fi icon.

Despite all the modern-day takes on fairy tales and fables, I’m still partial to enjoying them in books or on stage. Hence my delight upon learning that East Valley Children’s Theatre in Mesa is presenting a musical production based on one of my favorite tales — Hansel and Gretel. Remembering our oldest daughter’s performance in “Hansel and Gretel” at Greasepaint Youtheatre still brings a smile to my face.

East Valley Children’s Theatre performs “The Story of Hansel and Gretel” June 14-24 at Mesa Arts Center. They’re one of several resident companies at MAC. Others include Ballet Etudes, Mesa Encore Theatre, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Symphony of the Southwest and Xico.

Nowadays Jennifer studies cultural anthropology at ASU

Mesa Arts Center holds a free “Educator Preview Night” featuring arts and culture offerings for elementary, junior high and high school students on Mon, Aug 23. It’s designed to introduce educators to a wide range of arts and culture resources for the classroom. Think museum experiences, live performance art and more.

Educator Preview Night begins with MAC campus tours, drinks and treats, goodie bags and door prizes from 4:30-5pm. A preview of their “Performing Live Season for Students,” featuring a “surprise performance,” takes place from 5-6pm. From 6-6:30pm educators can enjoy “desserts and entertainment,” plus the chance to pre-register for “National Geographic Live!” and “Performing Live for Students” before other folks get a shot at them.

— Lynn

Note: Phoenix Comicon 2013 takes place May 23-26, 2013 and the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 51st season opens June 21

Coming up: Art meets shopping, Easing on down the road, Dance recital roundup

A new twist on “Alice”

Christian Youth Theater performs “Alice” through May 20 at Mesa Arts Center

Friday was opening night for the Christian Youth Theater production of “Alice” that runs through May 20 at Mesa Arts Center. This twist on the classic Wonderland tale finds Alice in a classroom full of kids who know just what they’d like to be when they grow up. But Alice, who struggles to finish even a single bit of homework, hasn’t the slightest idea.

“Alice” is the story of one teen’s search for her identity. Her world is populated with uniform-clad classmates, an overachieving sister and a mother guided by the latest parenting guru. She dreams one night of a place filled with strange creatures from talking flowers to tea-sipping quick change artists — all issuing a sort of wake up call for the girl who thinks only of the here and now.

L to R: Brianna, Lindy and Beth from CYT’s “Alice”

“Alice” features book, music and lyrics by Jon Lorenz, musical director and member of the acting company for Lamb’s Players Theatre in San Diego. It’s based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass.” Despite the deliberate “campy” vibe, the show feels more funny than punny. This production, an Arizona premiere, is directed by Tambra Lamb — who founded CYT Phoenix in 2005 and serves as its artistic director. Music direction is by Sara McDermott. The show has a cast of more than 50 youth who deliver a polished performance.

I especially enjoyed the choreography (by Kathleen Brazie, Shelley Jenkins and Tamra Lamb), set design (by Kris Tyler) and costume design (by Mary Jane McCloskey). Also ensemble vocals and performances by Jackie Tyler (Alice) and Cory Malkin (Mad Hatter/White Knight). Both are seniors who’ll graduate this month — Tyler from Veritas Preparatory Academy and Malkin from Scottsdale Preparatory Academy.

Though the musical has a message, it’s never elevated above good storytelling. Several scenes are laugh out loud funny, and scenes involving the youngest actors are especially charming. Friday’s audience was filled with kids of all ages who seemed genuinely entertained. Also proud parents who did a good job of tempering their enthusiasm (there’s nothing worse than sitting in an audience that feels like a cult).

L to R: Emma Tuten, Jackie Tyler and Cory Malkin after opening night for CYT’s “Alice”

Christian Youth Theater Phoenix is a non-profit theater company that provides after-school theater experiences for youth ages 6 to 18. Their “Alice” program notes that “each family contributes at least twenty hours of volunteer time to some aspect of the production.” All that TLC shines through in this show, creating a true land of wonder.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to enjoy the CYT blog, and here to learn more about CYT nationwide. Click here to explore the education guide for an NYU production of “Alice” (which includes a Q & A with the playwright). Click here for show/ticket info.

Coming up: Painting meets performance art

Much Ado in Mesa

The Mesa Arts Center is especially lovely as the evening sun sets

I headed out to Mesa Friday night eager to see Maren Maclean’s performance in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Much of what our youngest daughter Lizabeth knows about acting, Shakespeare and herself stems from time spent with Maclean, whose Beatrice in “Much Ado” is fantastically funny.

Before taking my seat, I headed to a long table featuring wares being sold to benefit the Southwest Shakespeare Company — where I found a nifty necklace, beaded bracelet and two sets of earrings. Mother’s Day shoppers take note — performing arts venues have some of the coolest stuff at some of the lowest prices.

A Shakespeare bust, perhaps, for the mother who has everything?

I also spied a group of teens and stopped the adult walking with them to ask whether they were part of a school program, since I always like to hear student reactions to Shakespeare’s works. Turns out they were attending “Much Ado” as part of the Arizona Theatre Company’s Open Doors program — and had the opportunity to chat with a trio of cast members after the show.

While a nearly full house was enjoying “Much Ado About Nothing,” which is directed for SSC by David Vining, folks in another theater were watching the Mesa Encore Theatre production of “Ragtime,” which runs through Sunday. Tall MET banners in the MAC lobby herald their next production, the musical “Hairspray,” and reveal some gutsy choices for 2012/13 — including “Spring Awakening” and a “TBA” show signified for now by a pair of eyes peeking out from a purple backdrop.

The East Valley Mormon Choral Association performed Friday evening at MAC

During intermission, I strolled outside the theater to snap photos of red and yellow walls illuminated by Mesa Arts Center — but found myself drawn to a wide flight of stairs, where girls of all ages were gathered in matching navy blue dresses that reminded me of daughter Jennifer’s old chorus uniform. Soon I found a mom — and asked what they were up to. She shared that her 12-year-old daughter is in her second year with the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization, which performed a concert called “From Classical to Broadway and Everything in Between” at the Mesa Arts Center Friday night.

She was kind enough to share her program with me, so I could learn more about the organization — which is currently holding auditions for the 2012/13 season (auditions for the EVMCO symphony take place in August). Friday’s “Easter Concert” featured “I Dreamed a Dream” (from the musical “Les Miserables”), “Stouthearted Men” (from the operetta “New Moon”), “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18” (by Sergei Rachmaninoff) and more. Their 2012 “Christmas Concert” takes place Dec. 1 at Mesa Arts Center.

Students in the ATC Open Doors program spoke with a trio of "Much Ado About Nothing" cast members after the opening night performance

After enjoying the second act of “Much Ado About Nothing,” I stayed for a talkback with members of the cast and creative tream — then made my way to the tiny Southwest Shakespeare Company studio where a trio of “Much Ado” cast members talked shop with Opens Doors participants. Truth be told, teens trump adults with better theater questions every time. Grown-ups eager to learn more about “Much Ado About Nothing” can consult the SSC play guide online and attend today’s 9am “Flachmann Seminar” with Maren Maclean Mascarelli, now the company’s education director.

Before Friday’s performance, artistic director Jared Sakren shared news of SSC’s 2012-13 season, which opens in September with “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and continues with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” opening in late November. A January “Winterfest!” features “Hamlet” and “The Tempest” presented in rotating repertory by a single company of players. And works by other playwrights include Noel Cowards’ “Private Lives” (Feb/March) and William Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” (April).

While admiring some of the Mesa Art Center’s architectual elements, I spied a poster for “Alice: A Wonder-Full New Musical,” coming to MAC in May thanks to Christian Youth Theatre in Phoenix — which is part of a national after-school theater arts training program started in San Diego. The pop/rock work by Jon Lorenz transforms two Lewis Carroll tales into a modern day adventure of high school students more smitten with listening to “The Red Queen” band than finishing their homework.

There’s a simple solution for that, by the way. Less pencil-and-paper homework, and more out-there-in-the-community arts education.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about additional performances, events, exhibits and classes coming to the Mesa Arts Center

Coming up: Tomfoolery meets tango

The circle of theater

Kylie Cochrane (Laura), Rebecca Steiner (Beatrice) and Scotlyn Mascarelli (Sara) backstage after Saturday's matinee performance of William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" at Scottsdale Community College

Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Elton John’s “The Circle of Life.” Even Shakespeare-in-the-round and the Roundabout Theatre Company. Theater is full of circles — some dizzying, some delightful. But I had another sort of circle in mind when heading out for a performance of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.”

The circle from child to adult, from teacher to mentor, from one mother to another. When high school felt torturous, theater was our daughter Lizabeth’s salvation. And Valley actress Maren Maclean, then teaching at Arizona School for the Arts, was there for her. To teach, to coach, to listen, to uplift and to embrace. I’ll never forget it.

Today I headed up to Scottsdale Community College for the matinee performance of “The Miracle Worker” so I could see Maclean’s daughter Scotlyn perform, knowing Liz would be right there with me if she could beam herself back from college acting studies in NYC. Our girls first met many years ago, and my how they’ve grown since.

Victoria Grace (L, Helen Keller) poses after the show with Sierra -- who brought lovely flowers to congratulate Grace on her performance

SCC  is another one of our circles. Our son Christopher earned his degree there and continues to take classes in career-related offerings, also working and volunteering with the school’s Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. It was actually Christopher who reminded me to hit “The Miracle Worker” — I kept feeling like late March was worlds away. The world spins quickly when we’re not watching.

Lizabeth also trained for two summers with Maclean — plus SCC theatre arts chair Randy Messersmith and other theater professionals — in the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, which celebrates its 25th season this summer. Auditions for the five-week program are open to folks ages 16 + and this year’s auditions take place Sat, April 21.

SCT “provides students with an opportunity to earn up to 10 semester hours of college credit while studying with professional actors who are currently working in their field.” This year’s program runs from May 29-July 3. The twenty students selected to participate will enjoy classes in stage movement, mask, voice and diction, and text analysis.

Carrie Rockwell (L, Aunt Ev) and John Viliott (Captain Keller) pose after Saturday's matinee of SCC's "The Miracle Worker"

The program’s founder and former director, Pamela Fields, will be teaching a master class in Anton Chekhov acting technique, and the college will be producing “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon. I first met Fields while we were fellow ASU Gammage Goers, and recall being wowed by her theater expertise, insightful sense of humor and warm spirit. (I wasn’t yet in RAK “Stage Mom” mode.)

I suppose the circle is growing into something of a line at this point. Actually several of them. I’ll be following one to Mesa Arts Center for the April 19-May 5 run of Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which features Jesse James Kamps and Maren Maclean as Benedick & Beatrice. I last encountered these characters during a Childsplay summer camp performance, which made me adore “Ado” even more.

The circle started long ago at Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley, where Lizabeth and fellow students enjoyed rich experiences in arts and academics. Lizabeth first took to the stage in Greasepaint Youththeatre productions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The King and I” (turns out a fellow actor from the latter is now a swing in “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway).

I remember her absolute delight — and that of her sister Jennifer (who performed with great aplomb in “Pinocchio” and “Hansel and Gretel” at Greasepaint) — when teachers came to see her perform, and made time after to chat about the experience and ask for autographs. Today it was my turn to make a little girl’s day, though Scotlyn hardly needed the encouragement. No time for autographs when you’ve got another show to prepare for. Your last chance to see SCC’s production of “The Miracle Worker” is tonight at 7:3opm.

Grace (L) posing with Bonanni after Saturday's matinee

It’s a lovely, charming piece directed with finesse by Ron Bonanni. The script is absolutely beautiful — and a real delight for those of us whose passion for words mirrors that of teacher Annie Sullivan. You’ll know both Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan better for seeing it, and you’ll be impressed with the professionalism of this production — which features scenic design by Alex Keen and costume design by Elizabeth Peterson. It’s produced by Randy Messersmith.

Kirsten Zollars (Anne Sullivan), Victoria Grace (Helen Keller) and Christopher Masucci (James Keller) gave especially strong performances — and each excels at showing their character’s smart and saucy side. I especially enjoyed songs and spirituals sung throughout the play, and the playwright’s subtle digs at the politics and gender stereotypes of the time. That’s a whole other circle that just keeps turning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the application/audition process for this year’s Summer Conservatory Theatre at SCC. You can buy tickets for tonight’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” at the SCC Performing Arts Center at the door (SCC is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd.).

Coming up: A city inside a museum