Presents Its 2019/ 2020 Season

text by Fiona Clarke     photos courtesy of Ballet Arizona

Above: Artistic Director Ib Andersen marks his 20th year at the helm of Ballet Arizona. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor. 

Ballet Arizona has been choreographing joy into the lives of Valley residents for 34 years. The company is both dedicated to the great traditions of classical dance and committed to the uncharted world of fresh choreography. The new and old are compatible partners this season with Napoli, The Nutcracker and Midsummer’s Night Dream representing the classic, story ballets, Director’s Choice and An Evening At Desert Botanical Garden addressing the need for original, imaginative programs and All Balanchine connecting both genres together.

The 2019/2020 season is cause for celebration: Artistic Director Ib Andersen marks his 20th year at the helm of Ballet Arizona. The company will honor Andersen by praising his beginnings, applauding his masterpieces and sharing his vision for the future of Ballet Arizona.

Asked to reflect on his tenure, Andersen shared the one word that came to mind. “Creativity,” he said. “You cannot do what we have done without it. To me, creativity represents the evolution of ballet… where we have been, where we are, and where we must go. In 20 years, I feel like Ballet Arizona has only scratched the surface and we have so much more to give to our community. That is what this season is all about.”

Above left: Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs will be performed on the Director’s Choice program. Photo by Tim Fuller. Right: Napoli is filled with energetic dancing, glorious music, expressive pantomime and picturesque scenery. Photo by Alexander Izilieav.

Ballet Arizona’s upcoming season begins with the free annual opener, Ballet Under the Stars. Scheduled for September 11-14 at four outdoor Valley locations, the varied program includes classical as well as contemporary pieces complete with professional staging, lighting and costumes. This family-friendly event is a treat for both balletomanes and those experiencing live, professional ballet for the first time. 

Director’s Choice, an evening of contemporary works that push the boundaries of ballet, follows at the historic Orpheum Theatre. The program is a triple-hitter of “firsts” for the company; Sir Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs (The Skaters), a charming collection of vignettes that evoke the movements of ice-skating, a 20th Anniversary Ballet by Andersen that celebrates some of the creative director’s greatest works and an original ballet by Nayon Iovino, Ballet Arizona’s 2019 New York Choreographic Institute participant.

Napoli belongs to August Bournoville’s home company, the Royal Danish Ballet (RDB), so it seems fitting that in February, 2015 Andersen, a former RDB principal dancer, was the first to stage this classic stateside. This October, attendees can look forward to a second viewing of Napoli. Filled with energetic dancing, glorious music performed live by The Phoenix Symphony, expressive pantomime and picturesque scenery, the ballet portrays an uplifting love story and the never-ending battle between good and evil.

Above: The Nutcracker, hailed by The New York Times as among the top three in the country, dazzles from start to finish. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Celebrate the joy and wonder of the holiday season with Andersen’s The Nutcracker. Hailed by The New York Times as “among the top three in the country,” the $1.8 million production dazzles from start to finish. More than 150 dancers, 100,000 Swarovski crystals and Tchaikovsky’s cherished score performed live by The Phoenix Symphony will bring this classic story to life.

Above left: Shakespeare’s comedy consists of dreams, illusion, love and fantasy. Photo by Tim Fuller. Right: Serenade is the first original ballet Balanchine created in America. 

In time for Valentine’s Day, Ballet Arizona presents A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Shakespeare’s hilarious masterpiece consisting of dreams, illusion, love and fantasy, features Andersen’s fanciful staging, lavish sets by Michael Korsch and designer Fabio Toblini’s out-of-this-world costumes. The comedy comes alive with fun-loving characters and quarreling fairies as mistaken identities cause utter confusion.  

The much-anticipated annual All Balanchine program returns May 7-10. Three ballets by legendary choreographer George Balanchine will be staged by Andersen. The lineup includes Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, an adaption of Broadway’s On Your Toes, sets aside ballet formalities in favor of tap dancing and acting; the Arizona premiere of Bourrée Fantasque takes comic aim at classical ballet to focus on more popular dance forms; and Serenade, the first original ballet Balanchine created in America, represents a truly beautiful ballet considered by many to be his best.

Above: Andersen will create a new site-specific ballet for An Evening At Desert Botanical Garden. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

To complete the season, Ballet Arizona will return for An Evening At Desert Botanical Garden, the world-famous venue in Papago Park, Phoenix. What began as a one-time outdoor premiere performance of Andersen’s Topia in May, 2012 has become an annual event. Once again, the artistic director will create a new ballet for the Garden that marries the artistry of ballet and the magnificence of nature for one immersive and enjoyable experience. 

THE 2019/2020 SCHEDULE

Ballet Under the Stars

Wednesday, September 11 at Fountain Park, Fountain Hills

Thursday, September 12 at Tempe Center for the Arts Amphitheater, Tempe

Friday, September 13 at Estrella Lakeside Amphitheater, Goodyear

Saturday, September 14 at Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

Director’s Choice, September 26-29, Orpheum Theatre

Napoli, October 24-27, with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall

The Nutcracker, December 13-24, with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall

Midsummer’s Night Dream, February 13-16, with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall

All Balanchine, May 7-10, Symphony Hall

An Evening at Desert Botanical Garden, May 19 – June 6, Desert Botanical Garden

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit