Tag Archives: modern dance

Gaga for dance

Batsheva Dance of Israel performs March 22 in Scottsdale

Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, founded in 1964 by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva De Rothschild, uses a little something called “Gaga” — the movement vocabulary of choreographer Ohad Naharin — to explore and perform “new movement possibilities.” Folks who go “gaga for dance” can enjoy their work Thurs, March 22 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Come April, the center will present two companies from Australia — “Chunky Move: Connected” Fri, April 6 and Sat, April 7 and “Marrugeku: Buru” Sat, April 14. The latter features “stories of the indigenous people of Western Australia told through hip-hop music and stilt dancing.” They’ll present “Dance Brazil,” featuring “dazzling Afro-Brazilian music and dance” Thurs, April 26 and Fri, April 27 and Movement Source Dance Company brings their “Inspiration” to the venue Thurs, May 10 and Fri, May 11.

SambAZ performs March 24 at the MIM in Phoenix

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents “Experience Brazil” Sat, March 24 — which includes SambAZ dancers performing works inspired by “Brazilian and Carnaval culture” with Grupo Liberdade from 11am to 12:30pm. The event also features live music, drum workshops and more.

If you’re truly “gaga for dance,” a couple of dance performances will never do. Hence, I’m happy to share a diverse assortment of additional offerings headed our way in coming weeks and months, including several taking place this month. Let other folks go “gaga” for shoes or chocolate or basketball. You know that dance is where it’s at.

Katey Koderik performs "I Believe" for American Voices 2011 (Photo: Tim Fuller)

Center Dance Ensemble performs “Dance AZ/100,” which honors the Arizona Centennial with the premiere of “Western Suite” to music by Aaron Copeland and “Concierto Madigral” music by Joaquin Rodrigo March 22-25 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Come April they’ll perform “American Voices” featuring new choreography to the words of America’s great poets.

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, which blends “African American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition,” performs Sat, March 24 and Sun, March 25 at Mesa Arts Center. “Dancing with the Queen Creek Stars” hits the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center Sat, March 24 — featuring six “respected community leaders” partnered with the Utah Ballroom Dance Company for waltz, samba and such. MarioCo. Dance brings jazz dance to the Herberger Theater Center Thurs, March 15, with a performance dubbed “Propulsion.”

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performs March 24 & 25 in Mesa

Ballet Arizona presents “Director’s Choice” March 29-April 1, a new Ib Andersen work titled “Topia” May 2-26 (in  collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden) and “All Balanchine” May 31-June 3.

State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara performs “Jungle Book” — an original production by Rodney Gustafson set in the fabled jungles of Rudyard Kipling’s Africa — Fri, March 30 at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in Wickenburg. A lovely option for those of you who go “gaga” for both dance and exploring other parts of our fair state.

Scorpius Dance Theatre performs May 3-5 in Phoenix

Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “The Kick-A Dance Showcase” featuring the work of Arizona choreographers plus those from other fab places May 3-5 at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre. Let your little ones think the “A” stands for “arabesque.”

Finally, I leave you with a trio of dance events coming to Tempe Center for the Arts. Flamenco and belly dance artists Yumi LaRosa and Ava Fleming present “cultural music and dance” Sat, March 31 at TCA. CONDER/dance presents “inextricably linked” — “a performance inspired by flight and costumed entirely in vintage clothing” — Sat, April 14. The CONDER/dance performance also includes dance films from Belgium and NYC.

A Ludwig Dance Theatre performs April 19-22 in Tempe

A Ludwig Dance Theatre presents “Project 2012: Looking Back; Moving Forward” April 19-22 at Tempe Center for the Arts — which continues the company’s collaboration with choreographers Babs Case, Mary Fitzgerald, Kelly Roth, Karen Schupp. Look for a reprise of past works, an examination of issues facing contemporary society, audience involvement via text messaging and a little something that’ll have Valley theater buffs going “gaga” — the performance of a Daniel Nagrin improvisational piece titled “Someone” by actor, fight choreographer and ASU professor David Barker. That, my friends, will be a “gaga” moment in all its glory.

— Lynn

Note: I’m working on a roundup of spring recitals and performances being presented by youth dance companies and dance schools in the Valley. If your group is presenting a spring recital or performance, please send details (and photos if you like) to rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Dance meets dirt?, From Brooklyn to Japan


Dance takes flight

Photo Lynn Trimble

Art takes flight at the Children's Museum of Tucson

Mesa Arts Center is looking for 100 students, families, individuals, older adults and dancers to help build an “Arizona Centennial Dance.”

It’ll be performed at the “Mesa Takes Flight” festival at the Mesa Arts Center Feb. 11-12, 2012. 

The downside? No disco ball trophy for the best dancer. The upside? No need for experience or fancy footwear.

Several “special introductory dance workshops” are being held next weekend at the Mesa Arts Center Dance Studio to help folks who might like to participate in the project “explore the concepts of flight for the dance” and learn more about the dance citizens will be creating together. It sounds fabulously creative and collaborative, so let’s hope politicians are invited too. There’s no cost to attend.

MAC was kind enough to share these lovely details about when workshops are being offered.

Fri, Dec. 9 –Older Adults 1:30-3pm

Fri, Dec. 9 – ALL Welcome 3:30-5pm

Sat Dec. 10 – Families 10:30am-Noon

Sat, Dec. 10 – Dancers/Dance Students 1:30-3pm 

Dancers will have the opportunity to work under the direction of dancer, choreographer and ASU instructor Elizabeth Johnson.

Photo Lynn Trimble

Kite hanging at the Children's Museum of Tucson

Children who register for the “Alvin Ailey — 2012 Spring Break Dance Experience” at Mesa Arts Center will enjoy training with dance professionals from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, one of our country’s finest. The opportunity to train with Alvin Ailey dancers here in Arizona is rare.

A week of master classes called “Throughlines” takes place March 12-16 (mornings). It’s for 8-11 year olds and costs just $25 (which includes two tickets to an Alvin Ailey American Dance Company performance at the MAC).

Several two-hour workshops with Alvin Ailey dancers also take place that week — including “Young at Art” workshops in African Dance and Hip Hop/Jazz Dance for 8-11 year olds, and “Teen Extension” workshops in African Dance and Hip Hop/Jazz for 12-16 year olds. The age 17+ set can enjoy a “Young Professionals Dance Workshop” featuring modern dance technique.

Photo Lynn Trimble

Still flying at the Children's Museum of Tucson

All the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company workshops are modestly priced and registration opens this week, so make haste if your child is keen on such opportunities.

Please note that the MAC is also offering several dance classes with CONDER/dance, plus a variety of other classes in the performing and visual arts. 

Enrolling your children in dance classes is all good and fine, but don’t overlook the “Mesa Takes Flight” opportunity for the rest of us. Why settle for only the Twitter bird when you can move beyond your thumbs and let the rest of your body take flight for a change?

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about MAC classes and workshops

Coming up: Exploring the Children’s Museum of Tucson

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

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

Musings on modern dance

The modern dance of Bill T. Jones is heading to ASU Gammage (Photo: Russell Jenkins)

I got a wistful feeling talking one morning with a couple in New York City who work with a modern dance company that’ll be performing here in early March.

Jennifer Nugent hails from Florida, while Paul Matteson hails from Maine. They collaborate, perform and tour with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, a Harlem-based company with a truly diverse repetoire.

I was a modern dancer for a few brief years early in my college career, and our conversation left me pining for a love I rarely pause long enough to remember that I’ve lost.

I’m plumper now than I was then. Less responsive to the world in physical ways. More sedentary and stuck. Less connected to those parts of us beyond spoken and written word, and the moments we communicate in more subtle but perhaps more profound ways.

You wouldn’t know, by seeing me dance today, that it had once been such a part of me. But it’s clearly a part of Matteson and Nugent , though I suspect they long ago moved past thinking of dance (or life) in terms of separate parts.

Nugent started ballet, tap and jazz lessons at the age of seven, and began dancing on cruise ships at age 17. It wasn’t until age 20 that she met her first modern dance teacher — Barbara Sloan.

Scene from Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray (Photo: Russell Jenkins)

Nugent exudes gratitude while sharing a long list of esteemed dance teachers and mentors, including Bill T. Jones — whose work she’ll be performing with fellow dancers as the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company presents “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” at ASU Gammage for a single March 5 performance.

Matteson did “a lot of sports in high school” before finding his bliss “by accident” after signing up for an “Introduction to Dance” class in college. He left college for a time, but went on to earn a dance degree.

Modern dance, reflects Nugent, is “sometimes execution, sometimes improvisation” — making it sound like a beautiful blend of passion and precision. “In modern dance, you can be a ballerina, a clown, cool, pedestrian, primal.”

I’m especially intrigued by Nugent’s love affair with modern dance knowing that so many parents rush their young daughters off to ballet, tap or jazz dance lessons with nary a consideration of other dance forms. (Or the lure of movement for their sons.)

Scene from Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray (Photo: Russell Jenkins)

She speaks eloquently of modern dance as a means to “being engaged with other people in a more grappling way.” Nugent clearly relishes the “variety” afforded by modern dance — and enjoys merging its “human quality” with its “highly technical quality.”

Matteson sounds equally smitten with his craft. “I love that there’s a collaborative component to modern dance,” he muses. He describes the piece they’ll soon perform in Tempe as “gorgeous movement material.”

Of course, we’ll only enjoy the work if we manage to let go for a time of those slight but familiar movements from couch to fridge, from remote control to laptop.

Matteson describes “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” as “a meditation on history” — which sound infinitely more intriguing than the sound bites of selective memory we too easily settle for in other mediums.

Still, it’s a far cry from one man’s interpretation of past events. Nugent says the piece “looks at what is going on in the world today” — including all the rights so many are still fighting for.

Some of its content, notes Matteson, is very literal. Yet much, including the words of Walt Whitman, is poetic. I suspect that the layers of language, movement and ideas inspire audience members to consider their own ways of thinking about and being in the world.

Scene from Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray (Photo: Paul Goode)

You’ll likely leave the performance pondering your own movements of meaning. Who are we? How are we similar? How are we different? How would we be shaped in a different time? How are we shaped now? These questions, shares Nugent, confront artists and audience members, alike.

We settle too often for ordinary. Works like “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” invite — even demand — that we do more. The artistry and atheleticism of modern dance have much to offer in a day and age that so glorifies the gadget.

Matteson and Nugent agree that “Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray” is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Their five-year-old daughter Mieke, whose career aspirations have included being a ballerina, teacher and scientist — has already begun watching the work.

Something tells me she’ll grow up to be all three — and much more.

— Lynn

Note: Several Valley dance companies and schools offer modern dance training. Click here to learn about the work of Frances Cohen and Center Dance Ensemble, the resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

Coming up: Seeing double, Ps and Qs, Oh the horror!, Of cats in hats

A special Saturday in Scottsdale

Members of the Martha Graham Dance Company

Update: This post refers to dance performances that took place Friday and Saturday evening. Alas–you won’t have another opportunity to see the Martha Graham Dance Company in the Valley this weekend. To learn more about the Valley’s own modern dance company, visit www.centerdance.com.  –Lynn 3/21/10

Tonight something truly special takes place in Scottsdale. I can say this with certainty because the same event took place last night, and I was in the audience.

The Martha Graham Dance Company is giving the second of two performances at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts tonight, March 20, at 8pm.

I felt, during Friday night’s performance, that I was experiencing work more powerful, important and enlightening than anything I’ve seen before.

You don’t want to miss it.

Graham (1894-1991) revolutionized not only dance, but many elements of theater as well—including costumes and lighting—according to the company’s artistic director, Janet Eilber.

Eilber guided patrons through Friday night’s performance with what felt like an intimate  behind-the-scenes tour of the last 100 years of American—and even world—history.

Founded in 1926, the Martha Graham Dance Company is America’s oldest contemporary dance company. Think about it. That’s the same year that NBC was created, that George Burns married Gracie Allen, that Walt Disney studio was formed.

I felt a part of history witnessing the work of Graham’s company Friday evening—especially at a venue so rich and grand, yet warm and welcoming, in design.

I learned from the company’s website that Graham’s ballets were “inspired by a wide variety of sources.” These include “modern painting, the American frontier, religious ceremonies of Native Americans, and Greek mythology.”

I also discovered that Graham collaborated with a long list of the truly talented—from fashion designers like Halston to composers like Aaron Copeland. “Her company,” it notes, “was the training ground for…Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp.”

Graham “created roles for classical ballet stars such as Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.” I was thrilled many years ago to attend a Baryshnikov performance at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with my now 16-year-old daughter.

Lizabeth has ten years classical ballet training and many years of additional experience with diverse forms of dance, but had to miss last night’s performance because she was flying home from her first trip to Washington, D.C. and NYC.

We’ll be swapping stories today of my evening with the Martha Graham Dance Company and her first evening on Broadway, attending a production of “Next to Normal” at the Booth Theatre while most of her schoolmates did the “Phantom” thing.

I’m eager to tell Lizabeth that Graham taught many a gifted actor while “in charge of movement and dance” at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City—“where the Meisner Technique was born.”

Imagine yourself teaching Bette Davis, Liza Minnelli or Joanne Woodward—or maybe Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck or Tony Randall. Now imagine seeing the work of the woman who did so, and remember that tonight offers you this rare opportunity.

You can visit the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance website to learn more about Graham’s many accolades, honors and awards. You can even read her inspiring piece titled “I am a Dancer.”

But if you want to witness the fruits of her labor, you’ll need to make your way to Scottsdale this evening. Perhaps knowing that Graham’s influence rivals that of Picasso, Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright and Stravinsky, will move you to attend.

The evening’s program, titled “Prelude and Revolt: Denishawn to Graham,” includes works by Graham and others which premiered between 1906 and 2007. It spans 100 years of dance in a little less than two hours time.

You’ll see the work of choreographer Ruth St. Denis. Eilber notes that it was seeing St. Denis dance while a teenager living in California that inspired Graham’s decision to dance.

You’ll see “Lamentation,” a 1930 piece featuring original choreography, costume and lighting by Graham. And you’ll see “Lamentation Variations,” three pieces by different choreographers—all developed to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11—that premiered at the Joyce Theatre in New York City on September 11, 2007.

You’ll see a work titled “Steps in the Street,” choreographed by Graham after she refused Joseph Goebbels’ invitation to perform in Berlin during 1936—feeling she couldn’t possibly dance in Germany with all that was occurring under Hitler’s Nazi party.

And you’ll see Graham’s “Diversion of Angels,” a piece depicting thee forms of love—adolescent, erotic and mature—that premiered in 1948. According to Eilber, Graham said that the work might be about three different women or about one woman during three different times in her life.

Graham choreographed for 70 years, producing works that reflected both her personal life and the times in which she lived. This year marks the company’s 84th season.

If you’re a lover of history, of strong women, of theater, of the physical human form, of dance, of beauty—you simply must seize this opportunity to experience your own life and times through the performance art of the Martha Graham Dance Company.


Note: You can learn more about Martha Graham before tonight’s performance by attending a 7:10pm-7:40pm round-table discussion with Frances Cohen in the Mezzanine Conference Room of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Cohen, regional director of Wolf Trap, studied with Graham, danced professionally with Graham dancers and continues to teach the Graham technique to Valley dancers. Many of us have known Cohen as dance teacher to our children and director of Center Dance Ensemble, resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

A trio of dance delights

“What haven’t you done?” My 16-year-old daughter Lizabeth asks this question whenever she learns about an activity I tried during my youth. There was horseback riding, karate, track, gymnastics, cross-country skiing, fencing, sailing, debate, student government, theater, painting, poetry, guitar, clarinet and dance.

My memories of dance are particularly strong, for better or worse. Some of my best times in college were spent choreographing, learning and performing dance pieces—but there was also that one audition that went horribly wrong. The one that earned a petite redhead named Erin, not me, a scholarship to study with the renowned Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York.

I still can’t get enough of Martha Graham’s artistry, and I’m literally counting the days until The Martha Graham Dance Company performs March 19th & 20th at the new Virginia G. Piper Theater at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The Martha Graham Dance Company, founded in 1926, is the oldest contemporary dance company in the country. They’ll present “Essential Graham: Classics of the Martha Graham Dance Company” featuring “Prelude and Revolt,” described as “a multi-media theatrical event.”

The work includes narration, projections and performances of Graham’s “seminal work spanning the years 1906-1936.” I’ll have to chat with my 18-year-old daughter Jennifer, our resident ASU history major, for a refresher course on the first third of the last century. It’ll help me put Graham’s work in context, though it’d be no less thrilling were I to simply show up without doing my self-imposed homework.

I’m also looking forward to “The Dance Annual,” described as a presentation of “the best works created in” and “the diverse creative practices supported by” the ASU Herberger Institute School of Dance.

The Dance Annual” takes place this weekend—March 5th to March 7th—on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe. It’ll showcase the work of faculty, alumni, graduate, undergraduate and visiting artists “on a variety of platforms.”

The ASU website reveals enticing details, but I offer these snippets to pique your interest: lingering stereotypes of women in the media, a near-death experience, the cycle of monotonous everyday life, the power of the individual, and society’s love of animals and its lust for eating them.

The Valley is full of accomplished artists who’ve studied, trained, taught and/or performed at Arizona State University—whether in dance, theater, music, literature or the visual arts. Next time you find yourself wishing you lived in San Francisco or NYC, consider the wealth of talent right here in our own back yard.

Our local dance treasures include Center Dance Ensemble, resident modern dance company of the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Ballet Arizona and many others. Ballet Arizona presents “Classic Innovations” at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix March 26th through 28th.

“Classic Innovations” will feature three pieces, including the Phoenix premiere of an original work by Ib Andersen which will be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in June. The work is set to a score by Benjamin Britten with original costumes by Fabio Toblini.

The performance will also include excerpts from a classic 19th century piece titled “Raymonda,” as well as the first Jerome Robbins ballet to be performed by Ballet Arizona. Robbins’ “In the Night” will be performed with live piano accompaniment of its Chopin score.

Robbins (1918-1998) is world-renowned for choreographing not only great ballets, but also for choreographing and directing both plays and musicals (including “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” and “Fiddler on the Roof”).

If you’re already a dance aficionado, your heart is no doubt racing by now (as is mine). If not, trust me when I tell you that this is the month you want to get out there and experience dance. Graham. Robbins. Andersen. These are significant names in the world of choreography and dance. Don’t miss these opportunities to relish their work.


Note: The list of things I haven’t done is plenty long–chorus, golf, cheerleading, chess…