Ballet Arizona's Topia at Desert Botanical Garden Is a Full Sensory Experience

Ballet Arizona's Topia is the most sensory ballet experience we've ever had.

After its successful debut last year, the show, created by Ballet Arizona artistic director Ib Andersen, is back at the Desert Botanical Garden for a second season. The 80-foot-long stage where the dancing takes place is aligned with the nearby Papago Buttes, giving viewers a sense of awe before the ballet itself even starts.

But the desert setting doesn't detract from the movement; instead, it adds a layer of meaning to the piece that arguably couldn't be achieved in an indoor venue.

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With the setting and costuming choices, Topia feels like an animated artwork. The dancers look like Classical Greek sculptures that have suddenly sprung to life, and the natural surrounding that forms the backdrop for the performance seems as though it's been painted there.

The choreography is kaleidoscopic, making the dance feel even more like an impressionist painting. Particularly in the last movement, there is so much synchronized and sequential motion going on across the stage, it's overwhelming to try to keep track of the big picture. But it's also pretty damn impressive.

Topia definitely achieves its stated goal of bringing together nature, dance, and music, but it goes further than that. The piece heralds to some of the fundamentals of art itself: nature and the human form. In the manner of Classics, it emphasizes the beauty and idealization of these two things. And the effect is an overwhelming feeling wonder.

Topia runs through June 1st at the Desert Botanical Garden. Performances start at 8 p.m., but the space opens at 6:30 p.m. Guests have the option of a sunset dinner prior to the show, and drinks are also available. For tickets or further information, visit the Ballet Arizona website.

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Katrina Montgomery