Ballet Arizona Presents Today's Masters, Premières Two New Works

Categories: Dance, Reviews

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Alexander Iziliaev
Ballet Arizona performs Nayon Iovino's Resonance at the Orpheum Theatre this weekend.
It's been more than a decade since Ib Andersen, artistic director for Ballet Arizona, wowed us with his choreography and set design for Mosaik, which premièred here in Phoenix in 2004, and was performed again in 2006. It featured not only Andersen's choreography, but also sculptural set pieces of his own design and creation.

Though best known for his ballet roots with the Royal Danish Ballet and years spent as a principal dancer with New York City Ballet during famed choreographer George Balanchine's tenure, Andersen is more than a one-time wunderkind in the world of ballet. He's also an accomplished visual artist, who told Jackalope Ranch last year that he came to Phoenix with his painting supplies "because of Arizona's remarkable clear light." Andersen started working with Ballet Arizona in 2000.

Andersen describes his first passion as classical dance, but says his "secondary artistic passion" is creating visual art -- which explains why his creativity is most apparent in mash-ups of visual with performance art. It's evidenced by his newest dance piece, Pines of Rome, which premièred during Today's Masters on Thursday, March 26, at the Orpheum Theatre.


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Lisa Chow of Desert Dance Theatre on the Arizona Première of South of Gold Mountain

Categories: Dance, Interviews

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Joe Boniello
Scene from H.T. Chen & Dancers' South of Gold Mountain.
Lisa Chow, artistic director for Desert Dance Theatre, performs this week in the Arizona première of South of Gold Mountain, a multi-media modern dance work exploring the lives of Chinese immigrants in the American South during the post-Civil War era.

H.T. Chen & Dancers, a New York City-based company that blends contemporary dance with traditional Asian aesthetics, performs South of Gold Mountain Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, at Tempe Center for the Arts. Chow notes that it's part of a program that also includes work from the H.T. Chen & Dancers repertory and a community dance featuring local performers.


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Breaking Ground 2015 Delivered Strong Dance and Film, But More Would Have Been Nice

Categories: Dance, Reviews

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CP Rowe
Shaun Boyle's Gambaru was featured in Breaking Ground 2015.
Beyond Ballet Arizona and Center Dance Ensemble, longtime mainstays of ballet and modern dance in metro Phoenix, there's a whole world of dance experimentation taking place.

For eight years, CONDER/dance has presented a contemporary dance and film festival called Breaking Ground, which features two distinct programs performed on two consecutive nights. This year's festival was held Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, at Tempe Center for the Arts.


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Julie Akerly on the State of the Arts in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Dance, Interviews

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Steve Yap
Julie Akerly weighs in on the state of the arts in Phoenix.

When Jackalope Ranch issued a 10-question survey asking Phoenicians (and anyone with an opinion of Phoenix) to sound of on the state of the arts in the Valley of the Sun, dozens provided insights on what's happening in the city's creative realm. We'll present a selection of survey responses here over the next three weeks. Up today is performing artist and [nueBOX] co-founder Julie Akerly.

What are three words that describe the arts in Arizona?
Emerging, incomplete, safe

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Ballet Arizona Debuts August Bournonville's Napoli at Phoenix Symphony Hall

Categories: Dance, Reviews

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Alexander Iziliaev
Ballet Arizona performs Napoli in metro Phoenix during Valentine's Day weekend.
We love plenty of things that hail from Denmark: Carlsberg beer, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Bang & Olufsen sound systems, Hans Christian Andersen tales, sleek modern furnishings, Kierkegaard's existentialism, and LEGO bricks.

But we're not sold on Napoli, a ballet first performed in Denmark in 1842. It imagines the road from wooing to wedding for a young couple forced to overcome a mother's doubt, a sea demon's enchantment, and a community's superstitions.


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[nueBOX] Launches with Evocative Works from Emerging Phoenix Performance and Installation Artists

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Photo courtesy of Jacob Daniels.
We're excited to see how Jordan Daniels' choreography will evolve throughout his [nueBOX] residency.

Phoenix's premier performance and installation art platform, [nueBOX], hosted its launch party on Thursday, February 5, at First Draft Book Bar.The event served as an introduction to the organization, and featured both live and recorded performance and installation art by current and future [nueBOX] artists-in-residence.


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13 Must-See Dance Performances in Metro Phoenix This Spring

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Rosalie O'Connor
Ballet Arizona performs Napoli in Phoenix this season.
It's an especially exciting season for dance lovers in metro Phoenix as local, national, and international companies present diverse offerings that incorporate everything from architecture to spoken word performance. With all these choices, even folks who rarely hit the dance scene will find a little something that strikes their fancy.


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Wendy Whelan Brings Restless Creature to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Categories: Dance, Interviews

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Christopher Duggan
Wendy Whalen, dancing here with Joshua Beamish, brings Restless Creature to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on February 3.
After retiring from New York City Ballet last October, Wendy Whelan had no intention of curtailing the physical and intellectual movement that's been the hallmark of her esteemed career. Instead, the ballerina with a gift for contemporary dance turned her considerable energy and insatiable curiosity towards developing new collaborative projects and creating the Wendy Whelan New Works Initiative.

Whelan started by engaging four dancer-choreographers in creating a suite of four duets dubbed Restless Creature, a name that clearly reflects the dancer's own spirit of artistic adventure. Each choreographer dances the duet he created, with Whelan, as part of the innovative suite, which premièred at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts in 2013.


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Bridget Whitman on Being a So You Think You Can Dance Finalist and Growing up in Tempe

Categories: Dance, Interviews

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Courtesy of Fox So You Think You Can Dance
Bridget Whitman of So You Think You Can Dance Season 11 trained at Tempe Dance Academy.
When the top 10 finalists from Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance hit the stage at Comerica Theatre on Sunday, January 25, Tempe-born Bridget Whitman will be among them -- performing not only for fans of Fox's hit TV show, but also friends, family, and fellow dancers from her metro Phoenix days.

Raised in Tempe and Chandler, Whitman left Arizona in 2012 to attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she majors in dance and expects to complete her BFA degree in May of 2016.


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Christy Zandlo Leaves Scandalesque to Open Pyrrha Sutra Presents

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Photo credit: Scott Sandry
Change is in the air for Scandalesque co-founders Julianna Curtis and Christy Zandlo. The two women who founded the nightlife entertainment company back in 2004 have parted ways to pursue their own projects.

Zandlo, whose stage name is Pyrrha Sutra, says the split between her and Curtis ended amicably. "It was my decision, I wanted to do my own thing," says Zandlo. "[Curtis] felt if [Scandalesque] stayed, then she'd be competing against me."

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