Ballet Arizona's Dancers' Choice Blends Classic Ballet, Contemporary Choreography

Full-length story ballets like Swan Lake are all good and fine, but there's something to be said for mixing it up a bit. Hence the appeal of Dancers' Choice, a program being presented this Friday by Ballet Arizona inside their own Dorrance Theatre.

It's a one-night only affair that raises money for an Artist Relief Fund headed by Ballet Arizona company member Kenna Draxton. The fund provides tuition assistance and financial support to Ballet Arizona dancers in emergency situations.

Draxton's own Storia d'amore campione is one of several pieces included in the program, which includes dancer-choreographed works and excerpts from well-known ballets including La Sylphide, La Sonnambula, and Le Corsaire.

Ballet Arizona performs La Sonnambula, a ballet they describe as "the dark mysterious tale of the beautiful sleepwalker who entrances a poet with tragic consequences," next spring as part of its 2014-15 season.

See also: Ballet Arizona's Swan Lake is a Visual Feast

Storia d'amore campione features music by Sergei Prokofiev, whose more familiar works include Peter and the Wolf and the ballet Romeo & Juliet, which was performed by Ballet Arizona in 2013.

Another work called Waves, complete with collaborative choreography by the Dancers of Ballet Arizona, is set to music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose music we all know from The Nutcracker.

When That Man is Dead and Gone, choreographed by Michelle Vagi, is set to music by Irving Berlin, whose claims to fame include God Bless America, White Christmas, and There's No Business Like Show Business.

Other music accompanying Dancers' Choice performances may be less familiar to traditional ballet audiences. Think British electronic musician and composer Aphex Twin, and cellist Zoe Keating, who uses a laptop while performing to create live layered music that's led some to call her a one-woman cello orchestra.

Dancers' Choice includes nine works performed live and a video presentation with Don Quixote Excerpts choreographed by Astrit Zejnati based on Marius Petipa. Zejnati danced the role of Basilio, opposite Paolo Hartley as Kitri, in Ballet Arizona Don Quixote productions in 2008 and 2013.

Other dancer-choreographed works being performed Friday night include U Turn choreographed by Myles Lavallee, Everlasting choreographed by Tzu-Chia Huang, and intrinseco choreographed by Joseph Cavanaugh.

After the performance, you can enjoy a reception with Ballet Arizona dancers and bid on silent auction items including artwork from company members plus products and services from local businesses.

Ballet Arizona presents Dancers' Choice Saturday, November 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75. For information or tickets, visit Ballet Arizona online or call the box office at 602-381-1096.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble