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

Categories: Dance, News

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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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The 10 Best Things I Saw in Metro Phoenix in 2014

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Andrew Pielage
A CONDER/dance member performs subtidal at Breaking Ground 2014.

Oh, 2014, parting is such sweet sorrow. That's because it was a stellar year for art, dance, comedy, architecture, and all-around culture in metro Phoenix. In no particular order, these are the best things I saw.

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Ballet Arizona Struggles to Find The Nutcracker Sweet Spot This Holiday Season

Categories: Dance, Review

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Lynn Trimble
Marzipan scene in the Ballet Arizona production of The Nutcracker.
Those attending this year's opening night performance of Ballet Arizona's The Nutcracker, choreographed by artistic director Ib Andersen, must have thought they'd been treated to a two-for-one special.

The ballet we witnessed during the first act bore little resemblance to the ballet we watched during the second -- leaving us eager to ask: Will the real Nutcracker please stand up?

There is no "real" production of The Nutcracker, of course. It's been performed countless ways by all sorts of companies through the years. It premiered in Russia in 1892, choreographed by Marius Petipa, who commissioned Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky to write the music.


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Center Dance Ensemble's Snow Queen Is a Pre-Frozen Winter Tradition in Phoenix

Categories: Dance, Review

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Tim Fuller
Amber Robins (Snow Queen) perform in Center Dance Ensemble's Snow Queen.
Fans of Disney's 2013 film Frozen take note: Center Dance Ensemble has been telling the Hans Christian Andersen tale that inspired the movie for more than 20 years in a production called Snow Queen.

Performances continue through Sunday, December 21, at Herberger Theater Center, where CDE is the resident dance company. It's directed and choreographed by CDE artistic director Frances Smith Cohen. Susan Silverman, who heads the Dance Theater West studio and is related to New Times' Amy Silverman, is assistant director/choreographer.

Frozen explores the divergent lives of two sisters, including one who becomes the icy, isolated Snow Queen. But there's double the sister power in Cohen's Snow Queen, which has sisters representing each of the four seasons.


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Breaking Ground 2015 Artist Lineup Announced

Categories: Dance, News

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Katrina Montgomery
Anna McClellan's casting your imagination to the depths of sleep at Breaking Ground 2014.

Though this winter's dance calendar promises much in the way of tradition and holiday spirit, those looking for more cutting edge offerings have something to look forward to in the spring.

CONDER/dance founder Carley Conder has announced the artist lineup for the eighth annual Breaking Ground contemporary dance festival, slated for March 20 and 21.

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Choreographer Jessica Lang Finds Inspiration in Arizona Landscape

Categories: Dance, Interviews

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Jessica Lang Dance
Performance by Jessica Lang Dance, which performs this month at Mesa Arts Center.
New York choreographer Jessica Lang, artistic director for Jessica Lang Dance founded in 2011, has been spending time on Arizona stages of late. Recently the company performed in Tucson and in Wickenburg, and they'll perform this month at Mesa Arts Center, with a touring program that includes five dance works and one film.

Lang received the 2014 Bessie Award for outstanding emerging choreographer, joining a list of Bessie honorees that includes choreographers Merce Cunningham, Garth Fagan, Bill T. Jones, and Mark Morris. It was Morris, the artistic director for Mark Morris Dance Group, who encouraged Lang to start her own dance company -- and Lang considers him a mentor.


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Ballet Arizona's Dancers' Choice Blends Classic Ballet, Contemporary Choreography

Categories: Dance, Events

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Kenna Draxton
Ballet Arizona dancers rehearsing for Dancers' Choice
Full-length story ballets like Swan Lake are all good and fine, but there's something to be said for mixing it up a bit. Hence the appeal of Dancers' Choice, a program being presented this Friday by Ballet Arizona inside their own Dorrance Theatre.

It's a one-night only affair that raises money for an Artist Relief Fund headed by Ballet Arizona company member Kenna Draxton. The fund provides tuition assistance and financial support to Ballet Arizona dancers in emergency situations.

Draxton's own Storia d'amore campione is one of several pieces included in the program, which includes dancer-choreographed works and excerpts from well-known ballets including La Sylphide, La Sonnambula, and Le Corsaire.

Ballet Arizona performs La Sonnambula, a ballet they describe as "the dark mysterious tale of the beautiful sleepwalker who entrances a poet with tragic consequences," next spring as part of its 2014-15 season.


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The Bolshoi Ballet Comes to Phoenix Art Museum -- Well, Sort Of

Categories: Dance, Events

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Gabriel Saldana
The Bolshoi Ballet comes to Phoenix via a series of televised specials presented by the Phoenix Art Museum.

This fall Phoenix Art Museum will feature something a little bit different from its normal exhibitions: Ballet.

Through a partnership with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Museum will stream live-captured performances by the well-established Russian dance troupe.


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