Tania Katan on It Was Never A Dress, Keeping Things STEAM-y, and What Arizona Is Doing To Support Women

Courtesy of It Was Never A Dress.
"It's important to realize it's not about a dress. It's not about a cape," Katan says. "It's about feeling comfortable in your own skin, regardless of what you put on top of it."

Tania Katan's life has gotten a lot busier over the past few days. As she puts it, "Trending is exhausting!" Just three months ago Katan joined the Scottsdale-based software company Axosoft after working as curator of performing art at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Last week, one of her first projects for the company, an initiative called It Was Never A Dress, went viral.

The campaign's image is a monochrome bathroom-sign woman symbol standing next to a colorized version where (what many presume to be) her skirt has instead been replaced with a superhero cape. The image has drawn the attention of the national and international media. Axosoft, a sponsor of the Girls In Tech Conference, debuted the image at the conference in Phoenix last week in an effort to spark a conversation about women's underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) fields.

We caught up with Katan at the end of a bustling week to talk about the future of the project and how she hopes to see it impact Arizona.

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Ballet Arizona Dancers Paola Hartley and Astrit Zejnati Talk Retirement

Categories: Dance, Interviews

Rosalie O'Connor. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust.
Paola Hartley and Astrit Zejnati perform with Ballet Arizona.
For many seasons, the spring lineup for Ballet Arizona has included a program of all George Balanchine works. It's a reflection of artistic director Ib Andersen's roots -- which include dancing under Balanchine as a principal with New York City Ballet during the 1980s.

This year's All Balanchine opened Thursday, April 30, and continues through Sunday, May 3, when four Ballet Arizona dancers retiring at the end of this season will dance for the last time on the Symphony Hall stage. They'll officially retire at the end of the season.

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Gary Owen Makes His Pick for Mayweather-Pacquiao

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Courtesy of Gary Owen
Comedian Gary Owen will be at Stand Up Live May 15-17.

Although Gary Owen might not look like the bulk of his audience (he's often one of the only white guys in the room at his performances), he connects with his fanbase on a level that few comedians can.

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Phoenix Artist Patricia Sannit on History, Archaeology, and How Humans Impact Culture

Mikey Estes
Patricia Sannit standing in front of her kiln at her home studio in Phoenix.

What happens in the studio, shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit Q+A is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Phoenix ceramic artist Patricia Sannit.

History is essentially the build-up of layer upon layer. Each past layer lends influence to the one atop it. The ceramic work of Patricia Sannit hints at this history, detailing the migration of one culture into another. Though formally trained as an artist, Sannit spent time working as an archaeologist. This fascination with cultures both past and present surfaces in her work.

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Becky Nahom of Halt Gallery Talks Curating, Phoenix's Art Scene, and Moving to New York

Katrina Montgomery
Becky Nahom, chief curator and director for Halt Gallery.
Becky Nahom, chief curator and director for Halt Gallery, is moving to New York City in June for a two-year graduate program in curatorial practice. She's been a mainstay of the local arts scene for several years -- curating exhibitions with curatorial partner Julia Bruck for shows at Modified Arts, Eye Lounge, and the Halt Gallery shipping container located in the Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market.

She's also worked with the ASU Art Museum, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2014, New Times named Halt Gallery the best new gallery, and gave Nahom the Big Brain Award for her innovative work in the arts.

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Phoenix Artist Cecily Culver on Thing Theory and The Ecology of Contemporary Life

Mikey Estes
Cecily Culver standing in front of her projected video work in her studio at Grant Street Studios.

What happens in the studio, shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit Q+A is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Sculpture MFA candidate at ASU, Cecily Culver.

It's been a pretty big month for Cecily Culver. Not only did her MFA exhibition, "Other Observations" at Step Gallery, debut last week, but she was also awarded The Dedalus Foundation's prestigious MFA Fellowship. With the fellowship, Culver has the opportunity for a stipend and studio space in Brooklyn, New York. Her work in sculpture, sound, and video takes the quiet detritus of the everyday and invigorates it with vitality, requiring us to look and listen a little more closely.

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Heidi Abrahamson's 5 Jewelry-Making Essentials

Evie Carpenter
Heidi Abrahamson discusses the five things she needs to create her jewelry.
With dozens of worn tools sprawled out on her workbench before her, jeweler Heidi Abrahamson struggles for a few moments to select which few she considers her essentials, the things she couldn't do her job without.

She chooses a few without hesitation, her hammer and saw, but she switches back and forth between a few more tools before landing on her scribe, basically a marker, and square used for measuring. Finally, after some thought, she puts her phone next to her other tools, saying she often listens to '80s music while she works.

"There's nothing better than a happy synthesizer," says Abrahamson, who has been making jewelry since 2005 and previously co-owned Phoenix Metro Retro.

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Dave Attell on Why Older Crowds Are Better Than Young Ones

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Courtesy of Stand Up Live
Dave Attell will be performing four shows at Stand Up Live April 24-25

Are you looking to go see a huge production involving costumes, complex special effects, and several musical numbers? Then you should stay away from Stand Up Live on April 24 and 25. If you want to see some old school raunchy comedy, definitely head there to see Dave Attell perform for two nights.

"It's not some big spectacle like Lion King or Frozen or something. I'm just an old guy trying to pay my mortgage by telling some dick jokes," Attell says.

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Iliza Shlesinger on Offending Both Sexes, Last Comic Standing, and the Downfall of Reality TV

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

Cliff Lipson
Iliza Shlesinger will be at the Tempe Improv April 17-19.

"I slipped and fell, hit my head, and then when I came to, I had a career."

According to Iliza Shlesinger, that's the short and "less boring" version of how she got into stand-up comedy.

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David Hallberg Talks Ballet and How Collaborations Fuel Creativity

Categories: Dance, Interviews

Rosalie O'Connor
David Hallberg in American Ballet Theatre's production of Jerome Robbins' Other Dances.
David Hallberg, principal dancer with both American Ballet Theatre in New York City and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, returns to Phoenix this April to teach master classes, coach emerging dancers, and help raise funds for his eponymous scholarship at The School of Ballet Arizona. The scholarship helps boys receive dance instruction at the school, where Hallberg trained as a teen with Kee Juan Han, now director for The Washington School of Ballet.

Born in South Dakota, Hallberg moved to Phoenix as a child. He came late to ballet, starting formal training at age 13. Hallberg graduated from Arizona School for the Arts. Hallberg moved to New York City, the place he now considers home, when he was 18. Hallberg says he's thrilled to be part of the city's bustling cultural scene, where he often heads to museums, galleries, and performances of opera, theater, and classical music. Most recently, he saw Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway-bound musical Hamilton.

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