Under the sky, ballet has a completely different feel from the formality and tension of an indoor performance. Anything can happen — wind, stars, insects, and audience all add layers of natural art to even the most carefully planned production.
Each September, Ballet Arizona continues a 15-year tradition of free outdoor community performances at parks across the Valley, this year making stops in Casa Grande, Sun City West, Goodyear, Fountain Hills, Phoenix, and Tempe. On a portable elevated stage complete with lighting and music, costumed dancers share choreography by the iconic George Balanchine, up-and-coming young artist Alejandro Cerrudo, and Ballet Arizona’s own artistic director, Ib Andersen.
On Saturday, September 28, Ballet Under the Stars comes to Steele Indian School Park at 7 p.m., and downtowners can experience a bit of the glorious uncertainty of a live outdoor performance. While the professionals warm up, it’s not uncommon to see a handful of tiny would-be dancers leaping and spinning on grass and sidewalks between lawn chairs and blankets. They’re perfectly prepared to see scenes from Andersen’s luscious Cinderella, set to music by Sergei Prokofiev and featuring fairies, cavaliers, Cinderella, and her prince.
From the classical Cinderella, en pointe in tutus, the program shifts to a contemporary work: Cerrudo’s Second to Last, commissioned by Ballet Arizona for a world premiere this past March. The Spanish-born dancer, who works with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, cites major influence from choreographers Jiří Kylián, Ohad Naharin, and Mats Ek as well as Freddie Mercury.
“I have influences from choreographers that I don’t even like,” Cerrudo declares. “I think everybody does — I think everything that you see, touch, smell, read, see, will influence you for good or for bad. Sometimes you see something and you’re like, ‘Oh, I really need to go the opposite of that in my work, because I see how that makes me feel, or I just don’t like the aesthetics’…and then the opposite way, as we grow up…you create your idea of beauty.”
He continues, “Europe is ahead of us right now in dance, in the sense that they produce more and they’re more progressive. But…I feel like I have a little place here where I can help and promote that growth and…evolution of dance in the States very humbly.”
Second to Last was a lovely revelation at its spring performances, a sensual exploration of every possibility of movement between two dancers. “People should come and see it,” says Cerrudo earnestly, “because it’s not meant to be explained with words…[it’s] meant to be experienced.”
During Ballet Under the Stars, students from Clarendon Elementary School take the stage as Class Act, an after-school program guided by Ballet Arizona dancers in which the students choreograph and premiere a new work.
The evening ends with Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, with music for strings and piano commissioned from Paul Hindemith by the choreographer in 1940. Three themes danced by three successive couples broaden into variations named after the four humors of the human body specified in medieval cosmology, beginning with melancholic (analytical), continuing with sanguinic (sociable) and phlegmatic (calm), and ending with choleric (ambitious).
If you can’t make it to Ballet Under the Stars, consider visiting Ballet Arizona’s huge new dance center during its grand opening on October 12 from 10:30 a.m to 2 p.m. — it includes free performances, classes, and tours with a drawing for season tickets.
- Ballet Under the Stars
- Ballet Arizona’s Cinderella – Oct. 30 through Nov. 3 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall
- Choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo
- George Balanchine’s ballet The Four Temperaments
- The Balanchine Trust
- The Balanchine Foundation
- Ballet Arizona’s past program Director’s Choice
- Ballet Arizona’s past program All Balanchine
- Ballet Arizona’s grand opening on Oct. 12
2836 E. Washington St., Phoenix, 85034
But then there is the “visioning” meeting, where the talking, planning and exchange of ideas converge to create a long view for what could take shape in the future.
These discussions represent an exciting hands-on opportunity to help shape our downtown, and as the Hance Park Conservancy can attest, few areas are in more need of a real vision than Margaret T. Hance Park (sometime referred to as Deck Park).
Input and feedback are being gathered from all community stakeholders on the redesign of our 32-acre urban park. The goal is to define a framework and set of ideas that reposition Hance Park as a vibrant destination that adds even more value to our city.
The City of Phoenix and Hance Park Master Plan Design Team is inviting members of the public to join the conversation by participating in the Community Visioning Workshop. Everyone with ideas for the future of Hance Park is encouraged to attend.
See representatives of downtown organizations in action in photos below, and join tonight’s discussion on how to make Hance Park great.
If you go
What: Community Visioning Workshop
When: Wednesday, September 25, 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St., Phoenix, AZ 85004
”En-Hance” based on image courtesy of City of Phoenix
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Downtown Phoenix and Tempe Celebrate PARK(ing) Day 2013 THIS Friday, September 20th During Morning Rush Hour
Parking spaces around the globe to be temporarily reclaimed for people!
In cities around the globe, this Friday, September 20th, artists, activists and citizens will temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public parks and other social spaces, as part of an annual event called “PARK(ing) Day” during morning rush hour at two locations in downtown Phoenix and one location in downtown Tempe.
Originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, PARK(ing) Day challenges people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.
This will be the 5th annual Park(ing) Day event in downtown Phoenix. The event is organized by Stacey Champion, community activist and Founder of the local sustainability group, Rogue Green. The first Phoenix Park(ing) Day was launched by community activist Yuri Artibise who now resides in Vancouver BC.
“This is not a day to protest, but a day to rethink how we use our public space to feel a sense of connection and community engagement within a large city. If Phoenix is to thrive, walkability and connectivity need to be important factors moving forward. Small, green, public spaces feed the soul.” says Champion.
ASU students from both the downtown Phoenix and Tempe campuses will also be taking part in the event with students Connor Descheemaker and Mitchell Bobman leading the ASU locations.
The event will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. THIS Friday, September 20th.
There will be three organized morning locations:
- Main PARK(ing) Day Location - Washington St. between 1st Ave. & 2nd Ave. on south side of street – Day of Contact: Stacey – 602-788-0033
- ASU Downtown Campus - Along First Street between Taylor and Fillmore, in front of Taylor Place - Day of Contact: Connor – 480-326-6551
- ASU Tempe students – At metered parking spaces at 5th & Mill in downtown Tempe – Organized by ASU Students for the New Urbanism – Day of Contact: Mitchell – 480-254-5454
Confirmed 2013 PARKS include: Dixieland PARK with the Dixie Devils, Chalkboard PARK by Rogue Green, Percussion PARK with members of the Rhythm is Life Steel Band, Coffee with a Cop PARK, Dog PARK, Bike PARK by Phoenix Spokes People, ArchiPARK, Lounge PARK, Eco-fessional by Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, Game PARK and many more… Plus we’ll probably have a special visit by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton!
PARK(ing) Day is an “open-source” user-generated invention created by independent groups around the globe who adapt the project to champion creative, social or political causes that are relevant to their local urban conditions. More information is available on the PARK(ing) Day website, at http://parkingday.org.
David Krietor has served as President/CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond.
DPI was created to engage in activities to support the economic and cultural viability of the total downtown community, to provide advocacy and leadership for our downtown with expanded flexibility and clarity, and to maximize the strong points of existing downtown oriented nonprofits and assist in the creation of others as deemed necessary to further DPI’s mission.
DPI has finalized our contract with the City of Phoenix. This key document formally brings to the DPI Board of Directors the Mayor, City Manager, and four community designated seats.
The full board is comprised of:
- Donald Brandt (APS/Pinnacle West)
- David Cavazos (City of Phoenix)
- Cindy Dach (Roosevelt Row)
- Mike Ebert (RED Development)
- Tim Eigo (Downtown Voices Coalition)
- Derrick Hall (Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Jeri Jones (UnitedHealthcare of Arizona)
- Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona)
- Jason Rowley (Phoenix Suns)
- Mayor Greg Stanton (City of Phoenix)
- Mo Stein (HKS Architects)
- ErLinda Tórres (Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center)
- Ed Zito (Alliance Bank of Arizona)
How can downtown businesses and residents get involved?
The great thing about DPI? We don’t have to recreate the wheel to make it possible for the community to get involved. For more than 30 years, PCA (Phoenix Community Alliance) has provided private sector leadership supporting downtown. During some of this time, as the city’s energy was devoted to more suburban style development, PCA was the lone voice encouraging elected officials to make downtown a priority.
PCA was the driving force behind big projects that shaped downtown but they also fostered the creation of Artlink Inc., Local Initiatives Service Corp., Capitol Mall Association, Discovery Triangle, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and the Human Services Campus.
An easy way to get involved? Attend or support an Event!
Here are just a few as event season kicks into high gear:
Downtown, Evans Churchill
Downtown, Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Row
Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue
Now, downtown has been “adopted” by a growing number of energized and creative entrepreneurs. PCA is taking this as opportunity to reshape their mission, membership model and programming to meet the expectations of this broader community. Residents and other individuals will also have a chance to join as downtown advocates.
One of DPI’s charges is to identify ways to make it easier to conceptualize, promote, and implement downtown events. This seems simple but Phoenix is a big, complicated city with unique logistical challenges in and around downtown. The good news is that downtown is becoming so energized that, more and more, it is perceived as “the place to be.” Our event base historically has been the 7 million people who annually attend the sports, theatrical, and convention activities in the core.
Now, based mostly on volunteers and “sweat equity,” the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill community has emerged as a major generator of “feet on the street.” USA Today recently called it one of the nation’s ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet. Just last week, the New York Times featured the story of an Iraqi artist who now lives in Evans Churchill as an ASU Artist-in-Residence. We can thank, among others, Artlink’s longstanding commitment to Art Detour and First Friday in starting this art wave.
In the short term, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) has started to provide additional logistical and Ambassador support for a broader array of events, including the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (returning to Margaret T. Hance Park, March 2014), the third annual Chile Pepper Festival on Roosevelt Row (Sept. 28), and the Celebración Artística de las Américas (CALA) PHX Fest! in downtown (Nov. 12). And, of course, don’t forget the Oct. 26 Zombie Walk. In the mid and longterm, we need to work collaboratively on a model that makes it easier and more cost effective to bring additional events into all parts of our downtown, year-round.
On the real estate side of things, it was great to see the crane go up for the start of construction of the Arizona Cancer Center, the doors open for the first residents of the Roosevelt Point apartment complex at Fourth Street and Roosevelt, and the unveiling of a new residential/commercial project, the Union on Roosevelt, at the key intersection of First Avenue and Roosevelt.
How can we advocate for a more welcoming downtown?
The movement to remake our downtown streets more walkable and more conducive to becoming a revitalization asset is gaining momentum thanks to greater numbers of active and involved residents and community groups, and a willingness on the part of the City’s Street Transportation Department to keep an open mind. Key community players have been Downtown Voices Coalition, Evans Churchill Community Association, Garfield Organization, Grand Avenue Merchants Association, Hance Park Conservancy, Phoenix Spokes People, Roosevelt Action Association, and Roosevelt Row CDC.
Four important new initiatives are underway: (1) new sidewalks and shade trees on Fifth Street between Fillmore and Garfield, (2) a pilot “street diet” project on Lower Grand Avenue, (3) the Adams Street Activation Study, and (4) a pilot “street diet” project on First Street between Washington and Moreland:
- The Fifth Street improvements are being done in conjunction with the construction of the new Arizona Cancer Center resulting from collaboration between the Evans Churchill Community Association, City of Phoenix, and University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
- The Lower Grand Avenue project resulted from a “Greening America’s Capitals” grant in partnership with the Grand Avenue Merchants Association, City of Phoenix, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Valuable community involvement was instrumental in ensuring the best possible outcome.
- The Adams Street Activation Study, with significant community input, hopes to improve the pedestrian experience and enhance economic opportunities and connectivity on Adams between Central Ave. and Second St.
- The First Street initiative was conceptualized by the City’s Street Transportation Department (view PDF site plan here).
Last but not least, the process of developing a new downtown streets master plan will start in the fall to provide an opportunity for broad community input on “the downtown we want.”
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
A Cheeky Menu to Hoppy Living
If you could bottle a virtue, what would it be?
The 6th Avenue Gallery and local designer Erik von Weber brews up intoxicating fun with Grin and Beer It. The show inspires renewed appreciation for the oft-forgotten virtues of life through a series of cleverly crafted, fictitious beer labels. The beer-themed exhibit opens on First Friday, September 6 with live music and sampling of real craft beer.
The public also will have an opportunity to vote for the label and virtue they would most like to see exhibited in life, and as a future craft beer. Results will determine the theme for a 6th Avenue Gallery show in the new year, and possibly a future craft beer. Voting will kick off First Friday and continue on 6th Avenue Gallery’s Facebook page through Sept. 13.