Every year Ballet Arizona gives audiences a family-friendly treat with Ballet Under the Stars, a series of free outdoor performances in Valley parks ending at Steele Indian School Park on Saturday, September 27 at 7PM.
“It’s an extraordinary gift to give Arizona,” says Ballet Arizona Artistic Director Ib Andersen, “that we’re doing this program for free. Nobody does what we do.”
The repertoire includes two classics by American ballet iconoclast George Balanchine, beginning with last season’s Walpurgisnacht from Charles Gounod’s opera Faust. Creating an otherworldly atmosphere, Walpurgisnacht refers to revelry celebrating the souls of the dead and a gathering of witches, although the ballet itself isn’t meant to depict a specific event, “except I would say the last movement,” adds Andersen, “when the women let their hair down and they go sort of bananas.”
Brazilian dancer Nayon Iovino, who’s been with Ballet Arizona since 2012, choreographed the evening’s second work for its performances this past May. “I do think that Nayon has talent,” says Andersen, “and this ballet that he did … is a good one.”
Iovino’s creation uses several pieces of music, ranging from an excerpt from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to more modern tunes. The dancers wear simple costumes of jeans and shirts, without pointe shoes.
Ballet Under the Stars concludes with the 1954 work Western Symphony, featuring well-loved music by American composer Hershy Kay on traditional folk-song themes including “Red River Valley,” “Good Night, Ladies,” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Says Andersen, “It’s cowboys and cowgirls, you know?”
Enthusiastically received by audiences last spring at the Orpheum Theatre, Western Symphony uses the natural landscape as its entirely appropriate backdrop this weekend, showcasing nearly 40 performers. “It’s the biggest ballet we’ve ever done in terms of numbers,” explains Andersen. “We’ve had ballets where we had more people on stage, but not all of them dancing at the same time.”
Bring blankets or lawn chairs, friends, and family to enjoy Ballet Arizona’s invaluable gift to the Valley.
If you go:
- All remaining Ballet Under the Stars performances begin at 7PM
- Fri., Sep. 26 at Estrella Lakeside Amphitheater in Goodyear
- Sat., Sep. 27 at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix — UPDATE: this performance has been cancelled due to a forecast of inclement weather.
- Ballet Arizona’s Open House is Sat., Oct. 5 from 12PM-4PM
- at 2835 E. Washington St., Phoenix
- tour the Ballet AZ studios, meet faculty, enter drawings for ticket giveaways, or try free classes in ballet, jazz and modern dance, yoga and Zumba
- Find all the details on Ballet AZ’s upcoming season, including:
- Swan Lake (Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2014 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Dancers’ Choice (Nov. 15, 2015 at Ballet AZ’s Dorrance Theatre)
- The Nutcracker Festival (Nov. 16, 2015 at Ballet AZ’s Dorrance Theatre)
- The Nutcracker (Dec. 12-28, 2014 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Napoli (Feb. 12-15, 2015 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Today’s Masters (Mar. 26-29, 2015 at the Orpheum Theatre)
- All Balanchine (Apr. 30-May 3, 2015 at Symphony Hall)
The Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) team received excellent feedback at our quarterly Board of Directors meeting earlier this week. In addition to a comprehensive overview of new development initiatives, we focused on events, membership, establishing our brand, and our work with Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill to investigate the feasibility of creating a business improvement district. Our economic development partner, the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corporation (CDC), has joined the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) in agreeing to a January 1, 2015 consolidation date. We continue to work with the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) on a similar arrangement.
Having our business, city, and community leadership at the same table focused on the future of downtown bodes well for the future.
Doing Our Best
USA Today named the Roosevelt Row Arts District one of the top ten best arts districts in the nation. Last year Roosevelt Row was spotlighted, again by USA Today, as one of the ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet.
Bleacher Report named Phoenix the 13th best city (out of 25) to be a sports fan. Rankings were based on number of teams and events, success of teams in last five years, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power, and tradition and history.
Our Bleacher Report ranking should go up a few notches as the Phoenix Mercury completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky on Sunday to win the third WNBA championship in team history. They join the Arizona Rattlers who, a few weeks earlier, won their Arena Football League championship against the Cleveland Gladiators.
Earlier this month, government, business, and civic leaders hosted representatives from the Democratic National Committee in town to evaluate Phoenix as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Phoenix was the fifth and final stop for convention planners. Other cities being considered are Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; New York City; and Philadelphia, PA. According to Mayor Stanton, “I am confident that when the DNC leadership leaves here, they will leave with an understanding that, logistically, there is no better place than Phoenix.”
What’s Brewing Downtown
Downtown Phoenix welcomes a new brewery. On September 15, Mother Bunch Brewing opened in the 1926 J.B. Bayless Grocery building at Seventh Street and Garfield. Until it offers its own signature beers in a few weeks, Mother Bunch will make available a variety of Arizona beers through its 20 taps along with a “sophisticated, but not complicated” lunch and dinner menu.
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of its Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, pubs, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in central Phoenix. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
The City of Phoenix received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate the planning, environmental, and conceptual engineering to extend Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson to Baseline Road. According to Mayor Greg Stanton, “Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities. I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”
The City of Phoenix has selected Chicago-based Smithfield Properties to develop a mixed-used project on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren, the current site of the Central Station transit facility. Smithfield proposes a 476-apartment, 390-foot building that would be one of the tallest buildings in Arizona. A parking garage also would be built as part of the new development. Metro light rail trains and Valley Metro buses still will run through the station.
New City Church will be moving into a 18,000 square foot building at 1300 North Central Avenue for more space and a central location near the Roosevelt Row Arts District. According to Pastor Brian Kruckenberg, “We love being on the ‘front porch’ of the city and are ecstatic about the growth and attention that the city’s center is getting.”
New apartments and condominiums have sprung up or are being planned in and around downtown Phoenix. That’s a positive trend. But stalwarts of downtown living are the residents of Phoenix’s historic districts who remained while others fled to the suburbs in the 50s or purchased, renovated, and brought back to life vintage homes since then. The Arizona Republic has begun to profile these neighborhoods in word and photo: Country Club Park, Del Norte Place, East Evergreen, Encanto Palmcroft, F.Q. Story, Fairview Place, La Hacienda, Margarita Place, North Encanto, North Garfield, Roosevelt, Windsor Square, Woodland, and Woodlea.
Our Creative Arts
The second RadiatePHX business and community networking event, sponsored by DPI and Downtown Phoenix Journal, was held at the ASU Step Gallery in the Warehouse District on Tuesday. The theme and conversation focused on the importance of the arts community, cultural engagement, and the work of our local creatives to help transform and improve our downtown. Guest speakers in front of a packed audience included Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Steven Tepper, the new Dean of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. We appreciated the strong participation of PCA members at this event.
Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix is opening the doors of its New Media Innovation Lab to the public, offering expert advice and support on entrepreneurial and technological endeavors.
Two members of the DPI Board of Directors were just highlighted in the press, partly due to their involvement with the arts: Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, most recently chaired Ballet Arizona’s successful campaign to create their new facility at 29th Street and Washington. Tim Eigo, editor of Arizona Attorney magazine, serves as steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition and recent host of Space 55’s first PHIL Talk (Phoenix Has Ideas LIVE), a comical parody of TED Talks. In addition, Dr. Carol Poore, chair of PCA’s Arts, Culture, and Public Life Committee, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Arizona Republic about how science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts are all vital to attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in cities and towns throughout our state.
Amanda LaCasse, one of the 106,800 college students who live in Phoenix – and more specifically downtown Phoenix – shared her opinion about growing up and now furthering her education here: “The gems I have grown to love are not hidden – they are plain and simple, out in the open. Anyone can find a spot to feel at home in downtown Phoenix if they spend enough time getting to know the area, and nobody should be afraid of it. It offers the same services as any other part of the city, but with a more authentic attitude and honest, personable interactions with people who love you for who you are.”
It may look a little imposing from the outside, but the Irish Cultural Center and the adjoining McClelland Library offer an astonishing gamut of Irish events and educational opportunities for anyone who wants to know a little more about the rich history and culture of the Emerald Isle. At first glance, you may ask yourself “An Irish cultural center, in Arizona?,” but a surprising number of Irish immigrants and transplants have made their way to Arizona in the last 150 years, and this unique complex is an important cultural resource for anyone who wants to better understand their real or imagined Irish roots. Fashioned after authentic Irish buildings and built with some traditional materials, like the blue limestone that was brought to the site from County Galway, the Center transports visitors to another time and place.
Situated on the southeast corner of Hance Park and Central Ave, the Irish Cultural Center was created out of a unique public/private partnership among the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department; ADOT; a Sister City relationship with Ennis, Ireland; and the nonprofit Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation. The foundation raised the initial $100,000 to plan for the center, and the project received bond money to construct the initial elements of the site: An Gorta Mór Hunger Memorial (dedicated in 1999); An Halla Mór, aka The Great Hall (dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 2002); and the Irish 1850′s Cottage (dedicated in 2004).
The most recent addition to the complex, the McClelland Library, is a three story building resembling a traditional 12th century Norman castle, which was fully-funded by Norman McClelland of the Arizona-based, family-owned Shamrock Farms. “While the Center as whole embraces many aspects of Irish life and culture,” said Chas Moore, the head librarian for the McClelland (pictured right), “the library gives us an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s rich art and literary traditions, as well as provide genealogy resources for people interested in tracing their own Irish backgrounds.”
Now is a perfect time to visit both the Center and the McClelland library, as they launch a month and a half of special programming to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s The Dubliners.
Joyce wrote the groundbreaking collection of short stories in 1905 and spent nearly ten years struggling to get it published because of controversial elements in the stories. After Irish publishers repeatedly refused the collection, it was finally published in London in 1914. The celebration features events from September 24 through November 8.
Celebrate the 100-Year Anniversary of the Publication of The Dubliners
Wednesday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Lecture on “James Joyce’s The Dubliners: Still Engaging Readers and Writers 100 Years After Publication” presented by Irish-born poet Adrienne Leavy. $5 donation for nonmembers, free for members.
Saturday, October 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Book discussion of the first fourteen stories in The Dubliners. Free to everyone.
Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Screening of the independent film Dubliners in Arizona featuring local actors and settings. $5.00 for members, $7.50 for nonmembers.
Saturday, November 8, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Discussion of the final story in the collection, “The Dead” and a screening of the film directed by John Huston and starring his daughter, Angelica Huston.
If you haven’t yet crossed the threshold of the Irish Cultural Center and the McClelland Library, don’t hesitate. In addition to the wonderful buildings, the rich resources, and the regular events and celebrations held there, this hidden gem hosts an array of ongoing Irish language, dancing and music classes available to everyone.
If You Go:
What: Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library
Where: 1106 N. Central Avenue
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday evening open till 8:00 p.m.
Featured image courtesy of Irish Cultural Center
About 150 people gathered at ASU School of Art‘s new Grant Street Studios last Tuesday, hosted by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders produced by Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal.
The focus for this month’s gathering was a celebration of both ASU’s new digs in the Warehouse District, and the overall impact of the arts in downtown.
As we all know by now, two major sports events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, will be coming to the Valley in late January and early February. Our favorite city will be flooded with media from around the country visiting Super Bowl Central right here in downtown.
As a community, we want to share the compelling stories that define our downtown spirit with visitors, whether they be from across the country or across the Valley.
So what exactly are the stories we will be telling?
The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are convening committees in preparation for the festivities, and the marketing and media committee is helping identify the many things to do while here in Phoenix.
So, we decided to ask the gathered crowd at RadiatePHX to help identify the art and culture stories that people care about the most. It was a simple, non-scientific poll, but it garnered interesting results.
To simplify the polling, we created six overarching categories: visual art, performing art, literary art, architecture and historic preservation, and public art. In addition, we provided a “write-in” category to capture anything that didn’t quite fit in the those categories. Everyone who attended received tickets to vote in the category of their choice. Participation was brisk and the results were telling.
Visual Art: 48
Architecture/Historic Preservation: 57
Literary Art: 9
Performing Art: 37
Public Art: 61
Public art, along with architecture and historic preservation, were the two categories that came out on top. Again, it was an entirely unscientific poll, but the “public” nature of both of those choices seems to indicate that people are increasingly aware of the value of public spaces in making our city remarkable. Beautiful public spaces to move through, along with a diverse range artistic and cultural events to choose from are clearly points of pride that we all agree deserve to be shared.
The write-in category received a handful of ideas. Some were related to the arts categories above, some were specific events, and some had a temporary or “pop-up” theme. Most of the write-in suggestions resonated with the overall bent toward activated public spaces.
What do you think of the results? If you weren’t able to attend our September RadiatePHX, what categories would you have chosen?
Comment below and join in the effort to build a list of “must experience” arts places and events that will show the world what matters to those of us who live, work and play in downtown.
And be sure to join us in October, and on the third Tuesday of every month, for RadiatePHX.
“The writer who never talks about eating, about appetite, hunger, food, about cooks and meals, arouses my suspicion,” writes Aldo Buzzi, “as though some vital element were missing in him.”
This delectable list of literary bites includes authors who would entirely allay Buzzi’s suspicions with their savory descriptions of tastes, textures, and every emotion connected with food. Whet your appetite with Ruth Reichl’s first novel plus fresh new works by Jael McHenry and Michelle Wildgen and venerable classics by M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Buzzi himself.
As a voracious reader, I have a tendency to zip through books; Life is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days encourages me to slow down and read just a bit at a time, in tiny, much-anticipated doses. Author James Salter and his wife Kay — herself a journalist and playwright — offer glimpses into their happy marriage with snippets of humor, philosophy, history, reminiscence, scientific fact and verse (like the love poem from husband to wife beginning, “My darling, you will quickly see/This tiny box contains no Brie…”).
Featured recipes range from a dessert named in honor of Nellie Melba, who dazzled audiences at Covent Garden and New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, to Polpettone alla Toscana. Topics include Giuseppe Verdi, Watergate, yogurt, the Sicilian Vespers, soba, Tex-Mex food, Mme de Pompadour, raisins, Lucullus, hot dogs, Knights Templar, and Madame Bovary, wonderfully complemented throughout with delicate and lovely illustrations by Fabrice Moireau. Reading this book is like enjoying one small, ripe, succulent tomato directly from the vine each day.
Winner of a National Magazine Award and numerous James Beard awards, Jeffrey Steingarten serves as longtime food critic at Vogue and as a judge on The Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Steingarten’s collection The Man Who Ate Everything won the 1998 Julia Child Book Award as well as honors from the British Guild of Food Writers, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times and Slate Magazine. Named a Chevalier in the Order of Merit by the French Republic, he rewards the reader with twists of dry humor and a willingness to immerse himself in rigorous, painstaking research; delve into his memorable studies of ketchup (whatever your preferred spelling) and sourdough. Steingarten shares writing talents similar to those of the late great Roger Ebert in his deft facility with description and evocative turns of phrase.
British food writer Elizabeth David (1913-1992) piqued the interest of her countrymen in authentic, seasonal Mediterranean and French food with highly regarded cookbooks and articles in Harper’s Bazaar as well as other newspapers and magazines. Her practical yet deeply scholarly anthologies An Omelette and a Glass of Wine and Is There a Nutmeg in the House? blend historical fact with recipes and vigorous, tenacious opinions. David wasn’t shy about voicing judgments on everything from garlic presses (“utterly useless”) to the “idiotic term crispy” to the herb rosemary (“I can’t say I share the taste to any great extent”).
David’s contemporary, the iconic Mary Frances Kennedy (M.F.K.) Fisher, became one of the most influential American nonfiction writers, publishing autobiographical essays in The New Yorker and later collections such as Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf – about living and dining during wartime — The Gastronomical Me, Here Let Us Feast: A Book of Banquets, and With Bold Knife and Fork. Fisher led a long, adventurous life and wrote about every experience, from the perfect salad to mortal illness. Her dependably revealing and cosmopolitan treasuries are particularly appropriate for travel reading.
Aldo Buzzi (pronounced “Bootsie”) was an architect, a filmmaker who worked with the likes of Alberto Lattuada and Federico Fellini, and, late in life, an author. He died in 2009 at the age of 99. The Perfect Egg and Other Secrets (translated from the Italian by Guido Waldman) gathers Buzzi’s reminiscences and recipes alongside drawings by his dear friend Saul Steinberg, the New Yorker illustrator whose style encompassed caricature and cartoon with hints of Picasso.
If you prefer the flavor of fiction, try Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter. Much like Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, McHenry’s debut novel offers thoughtful insights into the perspectives of those with Asperger’s syndrome. Shy, sheltered, introverted Ginny Selvaggio is a gifted cook who finds herself able to speak with the dead through their recipes (many of which are well worth trying, including the flavorful and comforting ribollita). In her distinctive voice, Ginny provides glimpses into a mysteriously different world of perception as she struggles with her protective, domineering sister.
Dream Lake comes from the Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas, set in the Pacific Northwest. With this novel Kleypas begins to actively explore the supernatural — in the shape of an amnesiac ghost — along with food-focused ambience. Innkeeper and chef Zoe Hoffman creates dishes with near-magical effects: “The kitchen seemed to breathe around them, stirring currents of toasted air that carried the bittersweet zest of lemon rind, the dank sweetness of scrubbed wooden cutting boards, the floating richness of cake, the crisp bite of cinnamon and the black tang of coffee.”
The intricate dance of birth order and relationships in Michelle Wildgen’s gorgeously addictive Bread and Butter made it a perfect choice for our earlier summer reading post on sibling rivalry, but the author’s juicy and creative dishes demand equal attention. Three brothers find their footing from childhood rivalry to adulthood and their management of competing restaurants. Charming, captivating and subtly quirky, Bread and Butter delivers romance and tension with vivid scents and sensations.
And Wildgen writes confidently and convincingly about the backstage world of fine dining and the complex balance between staff and customers — just try to resist her spot-on description of a chef’s pâté-centric reaction to certain clientele: “When a table was being nitpicky or snobbish, he’d roll out a hostile, elegant little still life centered on the unctuous rosy brown velvet square studded with green pistachios and dark garnet pigeon breast, accompanied by hand-ground mustard and silky sheets of pickled turnip. He’d had to stop eventually. Pigeon was a pricey form of psychological warfare, and Shelley complained that cooking pâté made her hair smell of blood.”
For ten years the James Beard Award-winning Ruth Reichl was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, previously serving as restaurant critic for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. At last, long after successfully publishing the memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl tackles fiction with Delicious!, the story of — appropriately enough — a budding food writer. Those who appreciate Reichl’s reviews and essays may enjoy the different nuances of her first-person novel.
- Check out the Phoenix Public Library and Maricopa County Library systems throughout the Valley
- Changing Hands carries new and used books, and friendly staff members can help you with special orders at two locations:
- 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85013 — 602-274-0067
- 6428 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, 85283 — 480-730-0205
- David, Elizabeth (ed. Jill Norman). Is There a Nutmeg in the House? (2000)
and An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1986)
- Fisher, M.F.K. Consider the Oyster (1941)
and The Gastronomical Me (1943)
and Here Let Us Feast: A Book of Banquets (1946)
and How to Cook a Wolf (1942)
and With Bold Knife and Fork (1969)
- Kleypas, Lisa. Dream Lake (2012)
- McHenry, Jael. The Kitchen Daughter (2011)
- Reichl, Ruth. Delicious!: A Novel (2014)
- Salter, James & Kay. Life Is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days (2006)
- Steingarten, Jeffrey. The Man Who Ate Everything (1997)
- Wildgen, Michelle. Bread and Butter (2014)