Arizona Dance Festival Brings Diverse Lineup to Tempe Center for the Arts

Emerging and established dancers are taking to the stage at Tempe Center for the Arts for this weekend’s Arizona Dance Festival, a two-evening event featuring separate lineups. More than a dozen dancers and dance companies will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 9, and Saturday, October 10. The event includes diverse dance styles dance and several new works by local dance artists.

The festival is being presented by Desert Dance Theatre, headed by artistic director Lisa R. Chow, and the Arizona Dance Coalition — a membership-based organization comprising 80-plus dancers, dance companies, schools, venues, and presenters. Desert Dance Theatre has organized the festival since 2000. Performers are selected through a video audition application process.

The 2015 lineup includes dancers from nine Phoenix-area cities and towns, as well as Flagstaff. Dancers based in Las Vegas (Kelly Roth & Cynthia DuFault), Long Beach (Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre), and New York City (Julianne Ramsey) are also taking part. Some — including Desert Dance Theatre, Step’s Funk Junk, and Zona Flamenca — are performing both nights.

Featured dance styles include classical ballet, contemporary modern, and traditional modern dance — as well as classical dance of India and classical flamenco dance. Audiences will also see a bit of interdisciplinary movement and percussion, as well as interdisciplinary music and dance.

Expect a similar variety in musical selections for various pieces — which include music by Hans Zimmer, Billie Holiday, Aphex Twin, Son Lux, and others.

Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Desert Dance Theatre will perform a new work titled Into the Light, choreographed by Chow, which features music written and performed by Step Raptis.
  • Dulce Dance Company will perform a new work called Animism choreographed by artistic director Candy Jimenez, which explores the mysteries of mother nature. 
  • Elevate DanceWorks will perform choreography by artistic director Diane McNeal Hunt, whose work includes masks created by artist Zarco Guerrero.
  • Kaleidoscape Dance co-founder Amber J. Robins will perform a piece she choreographed titled Broken, which reflects a never-ending cycle of self-defeating behavior and struggle with personal choices. 
  • Movement Source Dance Company will perform a piece titled Unfold by guest choregrapher Jordan Kriston, a Scottsdale dancer who is part of Pilobolus Dance Theater.
  • Reyna Montoya will perform a work she choreographed called Rewind, Reflect, Transform, which includes immigration-related themes based on her own personal experiences, in collaboration with musician Celso Mireles.
  • Step’s Junk Funk will perform Everything Including the Kitchen Sink, choreographed by Raptis, described as “an abstract tribute…but not really” to Alvin Ailey’s classic work Revelations.
  • The Parking Lot Project will perform Autopsy Suite, which was choreographed for the company by New York choreographer Aaron McGloin.
The Arizona Dance Festival gives people a chance to see members of the next generation of dancers taking shape. Several student dance groups are performing in the festival, including those from Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Glendale Community College, and Scottsdale Community College. Elation Dance Company from Williams Field High School in Higley will perform a piece called To This Day, which is set to spoken word poetry. Pre-professional dancers from Ballet Etudes in Gilbert are performing as well.

Friday’s program runs approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, and Saturday’s program runs about 10 minutes more (including intermission). Each will be followed by a Q&A session with participating dancers.

The 2015 Arizona Dance Festival happens Friday, October 9, and Saturday, October 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe Center for the Arts. Tickets are $18 for a single night or $25 for both nights (less for seniors, students, and groups), and are available through the TCA box office. For more information about the event on the Desert Dance Theatre website.