There aren't many places where you can catch a ballet under the stars, let alone in one of the world's only places created for the study and display of the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. But last year, Ballet Arizona and the Desert Botanical Garden teamed up for the world premiere of Topia, an original production by Ballet Arizona artistic director Ib Andersen. With beautiful music, choreography, and the unique backdrop of the Papago Buttes, the performances were a genuine gift to audience members.
Those who missed out on breathtaking experience of nature and art will be happy to know what the company's gearing up for a second go-round. And trust us, you don't want to miss this again.
Set to the music of Beethoven, the ballet is performed on a custom-built stage that's 80 feet long. As if that wasn't unique enough, the panoramic stage is artfully placed against the dramatic backdrop of the Papago Buttes at Desert Botanical Garden -- it's designed to give a one-of-a-kind perspective of both the garden and the ballet.
Andersen has said that the music is meant to push back against the overwhelming combination of nature and dance. And the 45-minute ballet is all about big. From the stage to the music to the starry night sky, it's all about taking it in.
Ken Schutz, Desert Botanical Garden's executive director, says: "Inspired by the landscaping techniques of ancient cultures, Mr. Andersen's vision moves all to contemplate the vastness of desert life and the struggle to express those contemplations in a singular space. It's a little bit like when you are looking at a landscape. If you are watching the Grand Canyon, you only view one section at a time. I want to make a ballet where you actually can't get all of it in at the same time, but if you look anywhere on that stage, there will be something to see."
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The second run of Topia at the Desert Botanical Garden opens on May 14 and closes on June 1. Guests can enjoy an option sunset dinner before the show.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 8 p.m. Food and wine by the bottle will be available, as will a full cash bar.
Reserved tables for four cost $55 per set and general seating is $40 a person. Prices vary for Desert Botanical Garden members and Ballet Arizona subscribers. For more information or to purchase tickets visit the Ballet Arizona website, Ticketmaster or call the box office at 602-381-1096.