See 25 Performances at Arizona Dance Festival 2016 in Tempe

Normally, you’d have to log a lot of miles to see dance performances created by nearly two dozen diverse choreographers. But local dance festivals are making it easier to sample the metro Phoenix dance scene, where offerings include classical ballet, contemporary dance, and flamenco, to name a few.

For several years now, Lisa Chow, artistic director for Desert Dance Theatre, has worked with a membership-based dance support organization called Arizona Dance Coalition to organize a two-night lineup featuring Arizona dancers and choreographers.

They will present the 2016 Arizona Dance Festival at Tempe Center for the Arts on Friday and Saturday, October 7 and 8.

For Chow, it’s a way to showcase works by emerging and established artists, expose audiences to diverse types of dance, and introduce people to dancers and companies they’ve never seen perform.

“It gives the audience a taste of many genres and styles of dance that the Arizona dance community has to offer,” Chow says. “There is something for everyone.”

The Arizona Dance Festival is one of just a handful of local dance festivals that happen here in metro Phoenix. Best known among them is Breaking Ground, created by Carley Conder, artistic director for CONDER/dance, which features juried dance productions and dance films from local, as well as national and international, artists.

Chow’s festival features only Arizona dancers, including several representing Arizona dance studios and community colleges. Most hail from Valley cities such as Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. But this year’s lineup also includes dancers from Tucson and Flagstaff.

Desert Dance Theatre and Step’s Junk Funk, featuring Chow’s husband and fellow dancer, Step Raptis, perform both evenings. Raptis specializes in interdisciplinary movement and percussion performance. But otherwise, each night’s offerings are unique – with each featuring several works of modern or contemporary dance.

Friday’s lineup also includes tap fusion, an interdisciplinary music and dance performance, and a pre-professional ballet performance by youth. Saturday’s offerings include flamenco, comedic movement, and dance from both India and the Middle East.

Both programs run about two hours, including a post-show Q&A. About 15 pieces are premières, Chow says. And seven groups are first-time Arizona Dance Festival participants.

Several community colleges are represented at this year’s festival – including Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Glendale Community College, and Scottsdale Community College. Several local dance studios are also taking part.

Those who frequent the metro Phoenix dance scene will recognize several participating dance companies, such as Kaleidoscape Dance, Convergence Ballet Company, and Movement Dance Source, and several participating dancers – including Jordan Daniels and Amber Robins.

Chow hopes the festival does more than introduce local audiences to the Arizona dance scene. She’s also eager to help Arizona dancers working in different regions, with a variety of styles, connect with one another.

“It’s all about artistic expression in its many forms and community,” Chow says.

The Arizona Dance Festival happens October 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20 for adults, and available through or 480-350-2822. Find more information on the Desert Dance Theatre website.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble