Ballet High and Dry

A "spectacular and thoughtful accolade to the Southwest" is how Ballet Arizona artistic director Michael Uthoff describes The Legends, with which the company wraps up its 1998-99 season. This program features two new works about this region and its native peoples, one scheduled to be choreographed by Uthoff to an original score by the Native American musician R. Carlos Nikai, and another by internationally renowned choreographer Moses Pendleton.

The evening begins, however, with Visions of Stone, a 1994 piece choreographed by Uthoff to a score by Brent Michael Davids and poetry by Ramson Lomatewama. The brief work was inspired by prehistoric desert petroglyphs.

Following an intermission, the company presents Inside of Me Things Are Moving, also choreographed by Uthoff. The score is by the acclaimed Navajo-Ute flutist and composer Nikai; it's the first time he's written specifically for ballet. The piece concerns "the creation of life and evolution," opening with a depiction of "the external world--water, earth and sun," and continuing with "people--life, children, resolution." Judith Adee and Luis Torres are among the dancers.

After yet another intermission, the evening concludes with Opus Cactus, choreographed by Pendleton. The founder of the famed dance companies Pilolobus and Momix, who has also staged dances for Prince's "Batdance" video and for the stage version of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, here uses a variety of music, ranging from Brian Eno to Douglas Spotted Eagle, to accompany dances evoking a "desert Southwest" mood. The performance also features oversize puppets by Michael Curry, like a giant spider and a giant bird.

--M. V. Moorhead

Phoenix performances of Ballet Arizona's The Legends are at 8 p.m. Friday, April 23; 8 p.m. Saturday, April 24; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25, in Center Stage at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. Tickets range from $17.50 to $36, available at the center and Dillard's. A Tucson run follows in May. 602-252-8497 or 480-503-5555.

 
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