Founder and director Lisa Starry takes another step toward her ambitions for downtown Phoenix-based Scorpius Dance Theatre when the troupe travels to Scotland next week. As the first Arizona company ever selected to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by Booking Dance, an organization specializing in worldwide tours, Scorpius takes the stage to prove its merits to international presenters.
“My goal for Scorpius…is to become a highly sought-after touring company. This exposure will be invaluable…to take the company to the next level,” says Starry, who founded Scorpius in 1999 and currently serves as Associate Head of School at Metropolitan Arts Institute.
“It’s very exciting, but I’m nervous,” she continues. “This is the first time for us — we were invited last year, but we were so busy with going to the Bram Stoker International Film Festival…we couldn’t do both things.” Scorpius performed Starry’s signature work, A Vampire Tale, at the Stoker Festival in England last autumn. “It went really well,” says Starry. “We felt like we…got a nice following in Europe.”
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe dates back to 1947, when eight uninvited theater groups performed at the newly-established Edinburgh International Festival, setting a precedent that led to the creation of the Festival Fringe Society in 1958. 55 years later, the Fringe brings thousands of performers to stages across Scotland’s capital in shows ranging from comedy to opera to physical theater and beyond.
Ten dancers from Scorpius will appear in five shows from August 14-18, described by Starry as “shared showcases.” She explains, “I can only perform two pieces — I only have 10 minutes.” Luckily, that’s enough time to demonstrate the troupe’s technique and Starry’s choreographic creativity.
Scorpius plans to offer scenes from a full-length production called Dreaming in Water mounted at Chandler Center for the Arts this past April. “I’m bringing kind of a mixed excerpt of my Water Dreams piece with an aerial piece, because I’m trying to show as much as I can without overwhelming everybody,” says Starry.
From the other end of the spectrum comes Fünf, sechs, sieben, acht (Five, six, seven, eight), recreating a decade-old work from Scorpius’s Repertory Showcase, connecting high technical movements with hard techno beats from a German tune by DJ Taylor & Flow.
“We’ll see what happens,” says Starry. “Hopefully we’ll have promoters see us and want to hire us so we can tour internationally.”
Beset by financial demands, college students have become increasingly more inventive in devising ways to fund their educations. Arizona State University undergraduate Chaz Salazar has been literally playing his way through school.
At 21, Salazar is a success story from Rosie’s House, the downtown Phoenix-based non-profit providing lessons and instruments for young musicians. “I started to play [the flute] in fifth grade when I was at Valley View Elementary School,” says Salazar. “In eighth grade…my band director, Mr. [Edward] Gaona, told me about Rosie’s House and said, ‘…The next step to being a musician is to take private lessons.’”
Thanks to a recommendation from Phoenix Symphony flutist Joe Corral, Salazar was able to begin lessons with longtime Rosie’s House teacher Judy Conrad. “My first lesson was so packed and filled with things I didn’t even know,” exclaims Salazar, “…so much…and she told me about long tones and I started to do them and my sound just bloomed.” He smiles and continues, “It’s been amazing — Judy is like a grandma to me. She’s taught me so much…I owe most of it to her.”
Salazar went on to win a spot on the National Public Radio show From the Top, garnering a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award and performing on several broadcasts. From that experience he was inspired to coach weekly sectionals and give private lessons to students at Valley View, his alma mater.
Now Salazar studies with Elizabeth Buck at Arizona State University’s School of Music, although he’s also worked with another Phoenix Symphony flutist, Brian Gordon. “He just gave me free private lessons out of the kindness of his heart,” says Salazar of Gordon. “He was very generous to me…and I still go to study with him every now and then.”
Salazar has a tangible affinity for his instrument. “I thought [of] the flute as being of a very pure sound, with a pure tone,” he explains, “and I wanted to be the one making that sound.” Today he performs on a high-quality Altus flute given to him by Arizona Musicfest during his freshman year of high school. “The flute really sings,” says Salazar.
The young flutist’s infectious enthusiasm, natural talent, and innate good manners have won him loyal supporters like Don Morse, Minister of Worship and the Arts at Central United Methodist Church, which hosted Salazar’s benefit recital in early June. Salazar raised funds to participate in two summer festivals: Canada’s Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA), and the Interharmony International Music Festival in Italy. “They’re very intensive, so we get high doses of information as far as our learning…very concentrated doses,” says Salazar.
His other patrons include Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust president and CEO Harriet Ivey, who matches funds earned by Salazar through his fundraising efforts and his part-time job at Target. Another source of encouragement is businessman James Hagger, who lives in the Phoenix retirement community where Salazar’s mother works as a caregiver. “He’s one of my big supporters as well,” says the flutist, “both financially and emotionally. Salazar’s father is a server assistant at Aunt Chilada’s, a restaurant at the Arizona Grand Resort, and neither he nor Chaz’s mother are musical. “Even though my dad knew nothing about this kind of music,” adds Salazar, “…he heard me play and that’s when it sold him.”
Salazar began performing benefit recitals as a high school sophomore, raising money to pay for school while gaining experience onstage and expanding his repertoire. “My idea is to get a good, small audience and really to move them,” he says, and that’s just what happened at his June recital with pianist Snezana Krstic, which was one of the best of the season.
The program opened with Philippe Gaubert’s rich but playful Fantasie, and continued with a brilliant, wide-ranging new sonata by ASU graduate Eric Hessel. “I gave the world premiere of the piece…and loved it so much that I programmed it on my recital,” declares Salazar.
He continued with the unaccompanied Syrinx by Claude Debussy, a haunting, unforgettable work, and ended with the vigorous Fantasie on themes from Der Freischutz by Paul Taffanel. “The piece is based on Weber’s opera by the same name, which loosely translates to The Free Shooter,” says Salazar. “There are very fast variations in the middle section that are quite virtuosic…it’s definitely a barn-burner.”
Keep an eye out for Salazar’s future performances — he’s an active member of Buck’s flute studio at ASU, and he occasionally offers free community recitals that you won’t want to miss as you follow his progress through the world of professional classical music.
Phoenix families are invited to get out of the heat and enjoy a day of art and culture in downtown Phoenix.
The First Annual monOrchid Family Day event will take place Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The gallery is currently showing a summer group exhibition entitled “Thermal PHX,” which features a variety of art suitable for every age.
“At monOrchid we feel it is essential to provide the community with amazing art and events…to engage the community,” said Nicole Royse, monOrchid Associate Curator.
The scheduled festivities do just that, beginning with kids yoga, interactive arts & craft tables, plus live painting by artist Jayme Blue who is also featured in exhibition.
There will be live music by members of Tres Lunas and food donated by Carly’s, Pallets, Urban Cookies Bakeshop, and Brilliant Sky Bakery.
Local author Heather Tad will do a live reading of A Tale of a Tombstone, Arizona Tortoise, a book illustrated by her husband local art Tad Smith.
If you want to take home a souvenir to remember the day, Hip Veggies will be selling “A Pear to Remember” tote bag designed by local artist Rafael Navarro (see it here). The sales will benefit the residents of the Westward Ho.
If you go
What: First Annual monOrchid Family Day
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: monOrchid, 214 E. Roosevelt St.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
A total of 43 Phoenix nonprofit arts and culture organizations received $786,346 in grant funding in fiscal year 2013-14 from the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.
The funds can support the general operations of major, midsize, and small arts and culture organizations or specific arts projects related to festivals or arts education activities. The funding includes an additional $280,000, approved by the Mayor and City Council in July, which allowed the city to increase the amount awarded to these organizations. “In Phoenix, we recognize the importance of arts and culture to out economy and to our quality of life,” said Mayor Stanton. “Our City Council has made an investment in our community and our youth through the arts to build a more sustainable and economic future in our vibrant city.”
General operating support grant recipients include Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, Arizona Opera, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Theatre Company, Ballet Arizona, Black Theatre Troupe, Inc., Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Desert Botanical Garden, Great Arizona Puppet Theater, Heard Museum, iTheatre Collaborative, Musical Instrument Museum, Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Boys Choir Association, Phoenix Chorale, Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Phoenix Symphony Association, Phoenix Theatre, Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children, Rosson House Heritage Square Foundation & Guild, Scorpius Dance Theatre, Shemer Art Center & Museum Association, Society of Preservation of Barbershop Singing, Valley Youth Theatre, and Young Arts Arizona.
Festival and arts education grant recipients include African Association of Arizona, Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Arizona Matsuri, Artlink, Inc., Center Dance Ensemble, Cultural Coalition, India Association of Phoenix, Irish Society of Arizona, Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Jazz in Arizona, Inc., Phoenix Blues Society, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Phoenix Children’s Chorus, Phoenix Chinese Week, and Release the Fear.
All grants are dollar-for-dollar matching grants, requiring grantees to raise funds from corporations, foundations and/or individuals in the city of Phoenix. Organizations that received general operating support provide substantial outreach and education programs to the community. Arts education grant recipients partner with schools, school districts, after-school programs, or other community based organizations that serve youth, seniors, or special target populations. Festival projects advance, preserve, or celebrate cultural expressions of diverse populations, or present multiple performances dedicated to a specific art from, such as a theatre, dance, film, etc.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, established by the Phoenix City Council in 1985, works to foster a sense of cultural identity, celebrate diversity and ensure an outstanding quality of community life.
As much as you want to hibernate during the summertime, it’s not always possible, especially if you decide to get off your butt to go for a walk. Downtown Phoenix, with all it’s shaded streets, misted outdoor seating and (more) condensed living and doing, makes it more likely that you’ll be sweating on your way to somewhere.
Sixteen summers in Phoenix as a bicyclist, runner, walker, person-driving-a-car-without-air-conditioning and user of public transit has helped me develop a keen sense of managing the near six months of persistent sweating. I also just don’t like looking a mess wherever I end up.
While some people decide to use saunas, Phoenicians have the benefit of a dry sauna right outside the door (or sometimes just sitting close to a window). Luckily, living in this climate alters our bodies so that we actually sweat more (see #13 in the link) than people living in milder climates.
As icky as some people find it, sweating is actually hugely beneficial. Not only does it help keep us cool but it also helps blood flow and fights harmful bacteria on the skin. Think of it as your own self-contained insect repellant. All of this purging of toxins and destroying of bacteria might also be what gives us a healthier glow. Maybe this is the reason why everyone in Phoenix (except for the leathery ones) look ten years younger than they actually are.
To live here, and other equally sweaty cities, it helps to have a refined craft of coping with the inevitability of sweat. Now is the time to tap into all those problem-solving skills that an artist might use to make a piece work. I like to make sure I employ all the proper materials and methods.
If you’ve decided to be a brave soul who sticks it out for the summer, here are some useful sweaty survival tips.
Fabric choices are crucial
Even though the National Weather Service and every other resource out there suggests how you should dress for excessively hot days, it still doesn’t always sink in. As in art-making, materials are important. Cottons and linens are really the only way to go (Supplex is a possibility, too, if you’re going to do anything active). Synthetic fabrics do little other than trap heat, trap sweat and trap stink.
Be your own swamp cooler
It was my first summer with a studio on the second floor of the non-air conditioned Icehouse when I was given some of the best advice of my life. Owner, Helen Hestenes, told me how she would douse all her clothes in water and sit in front of a fan while working there over the summer. I tried it and ended up feeling almost too chilly. It made it a little difficult to work on more delicate projects like drawings (dripping on paper not recommended unless you can bind it conceptually with the work) but it prevented me from leaving my studio half delirious. I use this tactic now every time I get on my bike to ride longer than a few miles. It’s easy: just take a shower with your clothes on.
Be mindful of your color choices
Keep in mind as you venture outside that no matter what you’re wearing, you will sweat in it so, consider the colors. Imagine yourself as a cool, reflective painting that blends well with water. Yellows and whites are awesome because you can’t see much difference between wet or dry. Certain other colors don’t fare so well. Light heather greys or a bright green seem to show sweat the most. You don’t want to be caught in that awkward moment getting out of a car or train and realize that it looks like you’re wearing a pair of sweat underwear. Black, navy and dark grey work great, as long as you don’t have to be in the sun. Just don’t blame me if you find your thighs catching fire while riding in the passenger seat of a car.
Bring a change of clothes
You don’t have to bring an entire change of clothes but it doesn’t hurt to have a fresh shirt to quickly change into in the bathroom of wherever you’ve ended up. (Which also brings me to the point of showing up extra early to “de-sweatify” yourself). This way, you don’t run the risk of sweaty clothes going sour. You could also just try throwing something on over what you walked or biked in but I personally prefer ridding myself of any sweaty remnants. Generally, it’s been acceptable for artists to look disheveled and nearly homeless but I personally prefer allowing my better side to shine when I’m not working.
Know all the places with the best shade and air conditioning
A lot of places in downtown are pretty old, and likely were built before central A/C was widely used in the 1950s (the modern version was actually invented in 1902.) Some have updated but some have either swamp coolers or an old a/c unit that is so inefficient, owners end up supplementing it without about 18 just as inefficient old fans. Some of my favorite stops include the new Cartel Coffee location on Washington and 1st Street, Moira Sushi (nice and dark in there), Café at the Downtown Phoenix Market (iced regular or carbonated water with lots of lemons to help the muscles recover), Nami (with the benefit of having a chilling Tsoynami) and any place with a water feature outside. We should also not underestimate the power of lawn sprinklers that can so refreshingly cool us down during a walk while you’re pondering the frigidness of the universe.
There’s really no way to avoid it–you’re going to get sweaty. Hopefully, this list of suggestions will get filed into the ranks of suggestions you just might remember that day when you’re on your way to a meet-up in the middle of the afternoon, on your bike, when it’s 110 degrees outside. These are just some of the ways I’ve managed to survive (there are many others that usually involve popsicles). The DPJ community could always benefit from more in your comments below. Now, in case I didn’t say so, drink more water and get out there.