100 Creatives

Ballet Arizona Artistic Director Ib Andersen: 100 Creatives

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 92. Ib Andersen.

Ib Andersen would rather be in the studio.

The 59-year-old Copenhagen-born dancer and choreographer worked as a principal dancer under George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet and began working as Ballet Arizona's artistic director in 2000. Under his direction, the company has produced such lauded works as Topia, an original work choreographed by Anderesen that New Times writer Katrina Montgomery described as the most sensory ballet experience she'd ever had, and various works by Balanchine, which Andersen can present as one of the few choreographers in the world with permission to stage the late innovator's ballets.

See also: 93. Nicole Royse

I came to Phoenix with my painting supplies because of Arizona's remarkable crystal clear light. I needed to feed my secondary artistic passion, that of creating visual art. This environment burns into your soul. I ended up serving my first passion -- classical dance -- when I was named artistic director of Ballet Arizona in 2000.

I make art because it's the substance of what it means to be human. You get the truth when you create a ballet. Bodies don't lie.

I'm most productive when I am in the ballet studio. If you want to be an artistic director, you must be an artistic director, and pay attention to that end of the job. You better be around your dancers and give them what you think the dance should be. When you have a company, you have to constantly develop dancers. You need new blood constantly; it's a very short career. I've been very lucky that I've worked with the best in the time that I've been alive. So, I have all this knowledge that I feel it is crucial to pass along to the next generation of dancers.

My inspiration wall is full of nature. We are all inspired by it, whether we are aware of that or not. If nothing else, we love he blue sky, the green leaves, the white snow. The elements are a part of the human condition. And my paintings inspire me; it's very intriguing to me. I feel I'm just scratching the surface. It is time-consuming to do ballets. If you paint, you can do that anywhere. With ballet, it's expensive; you need the studio time, the place, all that stuff. And as a director, you actually are lucky that you can get that.

I've learned most from George Balanchine. No one has shaped ballet in America more than George Balanchine. The special qualities of his creativity, musicality, and theatricality cannot be underestimated. Very few days pass when I do not realize the tremendous effect he's had on my own art as a choreographer. There's never been a choreographer like him. There probably never will be. Balanchine is to ballet what Bach is to music. The ultimate.

Good work should always be real and never be easy. I don't believe that anything good ever comes out of pretending. Even when a dancer's body is telling a story to me, it's being, not acting.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more. . . We need a performing arts center, one to complement a city of five million. Downtown Phoenix needs to be revitalized. It needs to become a place people go because things are happening.

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski