Families / Kids
If you’re feeling the Thursday mental fatigue that comes near the end of the work week, give your tired synapses a pick-me-up at the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, and take a look at cutting-edge student research.
The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF) is a program of Society for Science & the Public, wrapping up this year’s event at the Phoenix Convention Center through Friday. Celebrate the joys of science at Thursday’s Public Outreach Day with hands-on interactive exhibits, and meet talented young finalists creating groundbreaking research in chemistry, computer science, engineering, and other disciplines.
Approximately 1,600 high school scientists competed from around the world, coming from 433 affiliate fairs and resulting in over 400 award-winning finalists and 17 “Best of Category” winners in fields including animal and plant sciences, cellular and molecular biology, behavioral and social sciences, medicine and health, bioengineering, and physics and astronomy.
The Special Awards Ceremony takes place Thursday evening, while the Grand Awards Ceremony starts Friday at 9AM. It’s intriguing to speculate on the prize-winning topics of research — finalists are competing for more than $4 million in awards.
Last year’s first-place winner was 15-year-old Jack Andraka of Maryland, who created a simple dip-stick sensor to test for pancreatic cancer. Astonishingly, Andraka’s study resulted in greater than 90% accuracy, and showed his sensor to be 28 times faster, far less expensive, and more than 100 times more sensitive than current tests.
Winners of Young Scientist Awards in 2012 included 17-year-old Canadian Nicholas Schiefer, who studies “microsearch,” developing ways to search tweets and Facebook status updates by improving the capabilities of search engines. Another winner, 18-year-old Ari Dyckovsky of Virginia, investigated the science of quantum teleportation, “entangling” atoms to transfer information.
Curious? Learn more about past projects through the abstract search, or stop by the Fair and see for yourself — you might find research exploring new drugs made from spiderweb silk, or discover an internal combustion engine with only four moving parts…or you just might meet the next great scientific mind in a teenager.
If you go:
- The Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® (Intel ISEF): at the Phoenix Convention Center through Friday, May 17.
- Society for Science & the Public is a non-profit organization promoting the understanding and appreciation of science.
- The Intel ISEF Public Outreach Day features hands-on interactive exhibits and the opportunity to meet top young scientists.
- Check out highlights from last year’s Fair on YouTube.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
WHAT: Arizona Science Center is celebrating the culmination of the Chew on This! film and lecture series with the first annual Grow Phoenix Festival. In addition to educational and interactive activities hosted by Arizona Science Center, the event will feature informative demonstrations by members of the Phoenix culinary community, with a focus on food sustainability in the Valley. A variety of food trucks will join the festival, with a popular local band providing entertainment.
Cooking demonstrations will happen every hour on the half hour (starting at 10:30 a.m.), and will include the following:
- Chef Jon Clancy from M Catering
- Chef Joshua Herbert from Posh Improvisational Cuisine
- Chef Nathan Hirsh from Whole Foods
- Chef Eddie Matney from Eddie’s House
- Chefs Sammy & Zach Sleman from North Italian Farmhouse
Festival-goers who need refreshment will be able to choose from an array of food trucks, which will be onsite between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. They’ll include Island Logo, Burgers Amore!, The Chef Genie, Kona Ice, frufrupops and Paletas Betty. Local band Peppermint James will provide musical entertainment between noon and 2 p.m. (whenever there is not a chef demonstration on stage).
Scientists from Arizona Science Center will be on hand with fun activities for the whole family, including T-shirt design stations, solar manicures, eco-weave projects, a “Calculate Your Food Mile” challenge and much more.
The event is free and sponsored in part by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Whole Foods and M Catering by Michael’s.
WHEN: Saturday, April 20; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Heritage & Science Park (in front of Arizona Science Center), 600 East Washington St.
WHY: Arizona Science Center and Chipotle both share a commitment to the local community and raising awareness of important food-related issues. Chipotle has a track record for changing the way people think and eat fast food through its Food With Integrity vision, including through its own ingredient sourcing, seeking out the most sustainable sources for everything from beans to lettuce and meats. Specifically, Chipotle will serve more than 10 million pounds of locally grown produce this year. Additionally, Chipotle serves naturally raised meat – from animals that are raised in a humane way and never given antibiotics or added hormones – as well as dairy from pasture-raised cattle. Chipotle and Arizona Science Center both wanted to provide a learning platform for all ages, and the Chew on This! film and lecture series provides the perfect, fun way for families to start thinking differently about food, where it comes from, how it was raised and how it will affect the environment around them.
INFO: More information about the event and Arizona Science Center is available by visiting azscience.org or by calling (602) 716-2000.
Should we fast before we feast? Or maybe proper training includes stretching our stomachs so we can better enjoy the community/gastronomic event that is Feast on the Street.
Whatever your strategy, get the scoop on this first-ever “Urban Harvest Festival.”
What: Feast on the Street
When: Saturday, April 13, from 2 to 9 p.m.
Where: Downtown Phoenix, in the Evans Churchill/Roosevelt Row Neighborhood. First St. will be closed to car traffic to make room for the half-mile long dinner table from Taylor St. to Margaret T. Hance Park.
Admission: Free. Everyone is invited to stroll and enjoy the activities, but you will be paying for the food and beverage you consume. There is also a VIP ticket option that will give you access to a comfy indoor lounge.
Who’s Serving This Feast? It’s a veritable smorgasbord of eats featuring several downtown restaurants and food trucks. Step right up and order, then be sure to sit for the 6 p.m. dinner seating (see below).
- Angels Trumpet Ale House
- Athenian Express
- Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
- Breadfruit & Rum Bar
- Carly’s Bistro
- Giant Coffee
- Hsin Café
- Jobot Coffee Shop
- Matt’s Big Breakfast
- Phoenix Public Market
- Pita Jungle
- Portland’s Restaurant & Wine Bar
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop
- Song Bird Coffee & Tea House
- Squash Blossom
- Tammie Coe/li>
- The Turf Irish Pub
- Welcome Diner
- Plus Food Trucks parked along First St.
Scheduled Highlights (be sure to check out the FULL schedule of events):
The Kick-Off Salad Toss
A “massive” ceremonial salad toss by Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel’s Chef Brian Archibald. Yep, a giant salad will be tossed using a tarp. Guests will gather around a recipe of fresh and local ingredients, typically discarded due to their bruised appearance.
- When: 2:15 p.m.
- Where: Intersection of Pierce & First Street
A “Mobile Garden Parade”
Gardens in buckets, some on wheels, including trucks, wheelbarrows, and bikes, will be led by Bad Cactus Brass Band.
- When: 3:15 p.m.
- Where: Begins at Garfield Street, marching north to Roosevelt and looping back to Garfield
Formal Dinner Seating
Take a seat! Break bread with hundreds of your closest and new-found friends at the half-mile long dinner table.
- When: 6 p.m.
- Where: The dinner table on 1st St.. stretching from Taylor St. to Margaret T. Hance Park
A formal toast to reconnect urban dwellers with a focus on the importance of the sun’s changing position and schedule in agricultural life.
- When: 7:33 p.m. – to be exact. (The official time of Sunset, April 13, 2013.)
For more, visit FeastontheStreet.org.
Prepare to see more than a menagerie onstage when Ballet Arizona performs Director’s Choice at the Orpheum Theatre this weekend. “It’s a challenging, very diverse program,” says Ib Andersen, the troupe’s artistic director, who chose three disparate works to showcase his dancers.
Alexei Ratmansky’s ballet Le Carnival des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) is easily the most family-friendly element. It uses 14 segments of appealing music written by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, including familiar favorites like the gorgeous cello solo called “The Swan” and a charming xylophone-rich movement named “Fossils.”
“I liked his [Ratmansky's] version of it,” says Andersen. “It’s just a very funny piece, and…it shows his quirky (side). He’s really one of the best around, I would say.”
Formerly the artistic director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, the Russian-born Ratmansky now serves as American Ballet Theatre’s artist-in-residence; at 44 he’s been called one of the two “most important choreographers under 70” by The New York Times (the other is Mark Morris). Ballet master Betsy Erickson assisted Ratmansky when he created Carnival for San Francisco Ballet in 2003, and she taught and rehearsed the work with Ballet Arizona’s dancers last October.
Despite a gap of five months and several intervening productions, “it’s pretty imprinted in their muscle memory,” she says. “You turn on the music and their muscles will just automatically remember the rhythms.” Erickson matched roles to individuals based on their personal characteristics. “It was clear that Shea [Johnson] and Nayon [Iovino] would be the lion, and…Paola [Hartley] — she’s a fabulous elephant.”
Ratmansky uses his distinctive style of movement to convey the attributes of each creature; hips roll and torsos twist in unusual directions. “He does a lot that uses the torso in a looser, more modern sense,” Erickson explains, “and something that’s really key with him: a lot of the musical accents are down rather than up.”
“So in other words,” she continues, “you’ll see a Balanchine ballet [that] might be very light — it’ll go ‘and up and up and up’…he’ll go ‘down and down and down.’ It’s just a different approach to musicality, to make the movement more grounded.”
These characteristics require the dancers to learn a different sort of physical language, says Erickson, and she stands to demonstrate.
“In classical ballet…let’s say this is the standard arm, and a passé is vertically from the floor and this leg is bent and this knee is turned out.” Erickson shifts, and the alignment of her body changes. “And I’ll do this, and there you have something that’s in The Carnival of the Animals, for the lion…the knee is rotated in, the hip is dropped back, the body is over…you have the same position in the arms except now the upper arm would be curved. So you see the difference? That’s just one example.”
Dancers “swimming” as fish must leap with flexed feet instead of pointed toes, joined in an aquarium by a drifting jellyfish in a huge tutu — “all of her movement is very jelly-like,” says Erickson.
Elsewhere, they peck and scuttle as chickens. “It’s very angular,” continues Erickson. “They also have their hips out, which you wouldn’t do in classical ballet; you’d have your hips under you. Their costume even reflects that…it’s very ingenious, actually — it’s like a bustle in the back, so it looks like tail feathers sticking up.” Other scenes include horses, kangaroos, turtles, and other creatures in a comical competition.
The lithe, fluid athleticism and elegantly modern costumes of Diversions turn Director’s Choice onto a different path, highlighting the dancers in classically based positions. Andersen created the work in 2010, bringing praise to Ballet Arizona for a Kennedy Center performance.
Diversions was named for its music, written in 13 movements by Benjamin Britten for a one-armed piano virtuoso. “It’s a little bit like a roller-coaster ride, you know…there’s ups and downs. It covers an enormous emotional surface,” says Andersen. “There’s a lot of irony in it, and a lot of…I mean, you name it.” He laughs. “But then I’m a big fan of Britten, period.”
Setting a ballet to such complex music is an intricate process, not easily described. “I work in the moment,” Andersen declares. “I don’t sit at home trying to figure out what they’re going to do. I listen to the music so I know it inside out, and I kind of have an idea about the flavor…but never the steps. That, I always do on the dancers right there. I think the best comes out that way.”
“I usually don’t choreograph more than 2½ hours a day,” he continues. “After that, my brain is mush.” Andersen pauses to consider. “It all depends, you know? Sometimes it’s very simple and you can do maybe a lot, and sometimes it’s something that requires just completely the right movement that you don’t have in your repertory and you have to sort of…create the right movement. And that sometimes can take a long time.”
For example, the finale of Diversions involves 20 dancers, “and they’re more or less onstage, all of them,” says Andersen, “and they’re doing different things at the same time. With that…I’ve done less than a minute [of choreography] in 2½ hours. But even so, I actually work quite fast.” He shrugs. “There’s no formula, you know? You just do one step at a time.”
The newest work on the Director’s Choice program was created within the past few weeks by 32-year-old Spanish-born choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo, a rising star in the world of dance especially since he joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2005. Ballet Arizona performed Cerrudo’s OffScreen in 2011, and commissioned this latest piece. “I think he’s very talented,” says Andersen. “Mostly I like his sense of humor…and his movement is very sensual, I think. And it’s important for the company to have things done on them — even just the process.”
Somewhat reluctantly, Cerrudo reveals his creation’s title: Second to Last. “I think it’s almost like putting a name to your son,” he says. “It can be for many reasons; it can remind you of someone, or you just like the sound…it’s subject to interpretation.”
“It’s a more serious work,” the choreographer continues slowly. “I’ll say it can be poignant…not sad, but I guess love is present. It wasn’t my intention to explore relationships, though.” He elaborates: “It’s about finding movement within two people — all the possibilities I could find…but movement research rather than trying to look for that specific feeling.”
Second to Last features scenic design by Wrara Plesoiu and lighting by Michael Korsch, as well as simple black trousers and dresses created by Leonor Texidor to complement the dancers, not distract.
“My intention [for the costumes] is that no one speaks about them after the piece,” says Cerrudo. “I don’t want people to say, ‘they were so beautiful,’ or ‘they were so ugly’ — they’re on a second plane from the choreography. We didn’t make the costumes to create a role.”
He spent a month exploring a vast palette of movement and music with the troupe, choosing six dancers and two pieces of music — Metamorphosis I by Philip Glass, and Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirrors in Mirrors) by Arvo Pärt. “The genre is ‘Cerrudo’ genre,” he replies when pressed. “I’ve choreographed to classical music and to Dean Martin — all kinds, so however it comes out will be my style.”
“It’s a very collaborative process,” Cerrudo says. “I like to work with what I have in front of my eyes, in front of my hands.” He laughs wryly and sighs. “That’s why it’s nerve-wracking…I can’t be so prepared because I don’t want to.”
“On a large scale, as a choreographer one of my goals is reinventing myself,” he continues. “I don’t want to have a signature. I want to surprise the audience…and every time they come to a Cerrudo work, they don’t know what they’re going to see and they’re just excited.”
If you go:
Ballet Arizona performs Director’s Choice
through March 31
Long-buried city founders lie buried in the heart of downtown Phoenix, and their history returns to life twice each year with character-driven cemetery walks. Thanks to the non-profit Pioneers’ Cemetery Association (PCA) and a handful of enthusiastic volunteers organized by author and Association board member Debe Branning, these events visit the denizens of the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park cemeteries near 14th Avenue and Jefferson Street.
Attendees of all ages meet historical figures depicted by actors in costume — on March 23, for instance, the theme was early Phoenix physicians, with actor Mark Broadley taking on the role of 19th-century state Surgeon General Dr. Scott Helm. “Debe knows the history of the cemetery backwards and forwards,” he says. “She’ll do the research on some of the most interesting people buried there…and then [Branning] writes a short monologue for usually eight people and recruits the re-enactors.”
Broadley, who’s been involved with the cemetery walks for six years, continues. “Once she sends us our biographies we’re basically turned loose to do our own research on the character, prowl around local thrift stores for costumes, and decide what props, if any, our character might have used.” He adds, “Most of my preparation involves studying the script so that I’m comfortable enough to give the speech a number of times for each tour group that comes through.”
To recreate those characters, Debe Branning says, “I read hundreds of obituaries and old newspapers, and actually dive into their ancestry a bit so that I can get a feel of what these pioneers were made of and what their family life was like.”
This year’s spring walk also called on a few of the physicians’ wives with their own unique accounts of early Phoenix life, and it was followed by an informal ice cream social. October’s walk coincides with an outdoor dinner party fundraiser at the Memorial Park called Dining Among the Dead, and all proceeds go toward tombstone restoration. Other opportunities to visit the Park occur every Thursday as well as the fourth Saturday of each month.
Branning strives to reconnect the community with the cemetery and remind Valley residents about the forgotten early Phoenix pioneers buried in the Park. “They come from many backgrounds and professions,” she says, “and some met strange untimely deaths.” With the help of a cadre of volunteers, Branning organizes outreach and paranormal research events in the hopes of reviving interest in Arizona’s burial sites and engaging newly-interested participants.
Around 2007, recalls Broadley, “Borders Bookstore hosted a group called MVD Ghostchasers (made up of past and present employees of Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division) that lectured about their investigations of haunted places around Arizona.” He continues, “Having always been interested in ghost stories and things that go bump in the night, I went to the lecture and met the group’s founder (Branning) after the event.”
The practice of dowsing also plays an interesting role for many of the cemetery volunteers — it’s a method of divining answers and locating objects (including unmarked graves and water) using a hand-held wand or pendulum. “Dowsing of cemeteries has been used back east and in other countries for centuries,” says Branning, who was taught by a dowser from Missouri and teaches a class on the subject herself. “You can map out a cemetery, determine the rows, and have a rough idea of how many are buried at a site.”
The history of the Pioneers’ Cemetery Association itself began in 1938, when a group including Carl and Thomas Hayden and Barry Goldwater banded together to preserve the historic cemeteries near the State Capitol building. Used between 1884 and 1914, those seven small cemeteries on 11 acres include several established by Phoenix’s fraternal orders, including Ancient Order of United Workmen, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and Masons.
It’s reported that Civil War veterans are buried in Porter cemetery, which abuts Rosedale (also called Loring or Walker Cemetery), while Loosley, the city cemetery, houses Jacob Waltz, the “Lost Dutchman” of gold-mining fame. More ancient secrets lie buried beneath those estimated 3700 pioneer graves in the remains of a Hohokam village known as La Villa.
Together with the historic 3000-square-foot Smurthwaite House, built in 1897 and serving as the PCA’s headquarters, the cemeteries were designated as the Pioneer and Military Memorial Park in 1988, and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, allowing Arizonans to not only remember the often unsung heroes who helped create Phoenix, but also care for their monuments and burial sites, preserving a bit of history.
If you go:
What: Visit the Pioneer & Military Memorial Park and Smurthwaite House any Thursday (e-mail email@example.com first to get in touch with volunteers), or bring the family and stroll through time on the fourth Saturday of each month through May (Apr. 27, May 25)…and don’t forget to plan for the Dining Among the Dead fundraiser in October.
Where: 14th Ave. and Jefferson St., downtown Phoenix
Contact: 602-534-1262 www.azhistcemeteries.org
Additional Info: Another local organization, the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project, was founded in 2004 and focuses on dowsing to locate graves as well as marking and protecting burial sites.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy Debe Branning.