With its Peace of the Pie program Saturday at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Desert Dance Theatre celebrates world diversity and peace. The biggest piece of the program is an excerpt from a work the company commissioned from H.T. Chen called Warriors of Light. Of the Shanghai-born Chen, the New York Times' Jennifer Dunning says, "He has almost always seen heroes in the common man." This is especially true in the case of Warriors. Chen, who has run his company, H.T. Chen and Dancers, in New York for 20 years, produces heroes through movement and tells their stories through the language of dance. In spring 2000, the group premièred Bian Dan, a large-scale work based on generational and cultural gaps in immigrant families, at Gammage Auditorium. The show included members of local Asian, Latino and African-American communities.
With Warriors, performed full-length by DDT at Manhattan's St. Mark's Church in June 1998, Chen highlights common themes that cut across cultures: struggling for something higher, breaking away from the group, preserving both individuality and group ties. The Saturday concert will also include dance works by DDT's artistic directors, Lisa R. Chow and Marion Kirk Jones, and local guest choreographer Candace Ammerman.
Desert Dance Theatre was founded 22 years ago and has been growing steadily ever since. Its theme-related programs focus on cultural diversity and are presented through music, dance and drama. Free at Last, Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman is one example, though the troupe went techno last October with a piece choreographed for them by Billbob Brown.
Step Raptis, Chow's husband, is music director for DDT, but is perhaps best known around the Valley as the affable percussionist of Crossroads Performance Group, which he and Chow co-direct. He'll perform the live music for Peace of the Pie.