at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

text by Kathryn Brooks

photos courtesy of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet   Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (SCPA) has made the Valley a prime location for seeing great modern and contemporary. Going back to the organization’s very first seasons, it has presented the best of both established and emerging dance companies from around the globe.

“The Center has made a name for itself as the Valley’s premier venue for dance,” says SCPA’s Director Ally Hayes-Hamblen.”This season we have a new company making their Scottsdale debut: Chicago’s Thodos Dance Troupe. We’re also thrilled to have Diavolo, 7 Fingers and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet returning to perform brand-new works.”

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s waiting behind the curtain…



Thodos Dance Chicago

Dedicated to the American voice in contemporary dance, Thodos Dance Chicago has performed with captivating style described as “breathtakingly athletic” and “powerfully beautiful.” The ensemble of 12 versatile dancers has toured nationally and internationally, sharing its award-winning repertory works and story ballets.

Thodos Dance Chicago’s program will include the critically acclaimed A Light in the Dark: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, which was co-choreographed by Artistic Director Melissa Thodos and Tony Award-winning Broadway legend (and Valley resident) Ann Reinking.

The dance tells the intimate family story of Helen Keller, the extraordinary woman who was deaf and blind yet went on to become a world-famous writer, political activist and inspiration to all, and her teacher Anne Sullivan, who led Helen into a world of education, activism and intellectual celebrity.



The 7 Fingers:

Cuisine & Confessions

Although not a dance company in the traditional sense, Les 7 doigts de la main ( a.k.a. 7 Fingers) celebrates movement in a dynamic, acrobatic, spinning, teetering, gravity-defying way.

The seven founding directors of the Montreal-based company sought to bring circus to a human scale by allowing performers to be themselves on stage, rather than costume characters, each sharing their unique talents in a collaborative creation. The company’s virtuoso performers fuse traditional circus arts, such as hoops, trapeze, teeterboard and juggling, with dance, theater and comedy.

“The 7 Fingers always dazzle the audience,” shares Hayes-Hamblen. “This is their third engagement in Scottsdale.” Returning by popular demand, the troupe will present one of its latest tantalizing creations, Cuisine & Confessions.

Set in an iconic kitchen, the performance brings together eye-popping acrobatic choreography and pulsating music while evoking the joy and powerful memories associated with cooking – the touch of hands in batter, the smell of cookies baking, the taste of roasted oregano – leading us through a span of times and countries.


DIAVOLO: Architecture in Motion®

“DIAVOLO” means “devil,” and like the fallen angel of its name , the dancers of this troupe are pulled to earth as if by gravity. Their work features steep ramps, a rocking soundtrack and nonstop action.

DIAVOLO: Architecture in Motion® uses dance to explore the relationship between the human body and its architectural environment. Artistic Director Jacques Heim steers DIAVOLO’s diverse team of dancers, designers, choreographers and engineers to create visceral and awe-inspiring works that reveal how we are affected emotionally, physically and socially by the spaces we inhabit.

Meticulously designed bespoke architectural structures serve as the central inspiration for each work, activated by the stylistically varied and intensely physical choreography that has become the hallmark of this truly original Los Angeles-based company throughout its rich 25-year history.

A full evening experience in two parts, L.O.S.T. (Losing One’s Self Temporarily) features DIAVOLO’s newest works – Passengers (2016) and Cubicle (2015). – and boldly tackles the essence of what both divides and unites us.

In Passengers, the dancers perform on and around a giant morphing staircase with multiple doors, passageways and shifting surfaces, the dancers reckon with themes of journey and transition and the tenuous balance we attempt to strike each day as both indomitable drivers and unwitting passengers.

Within a system of heavy wooden boxes, Cubicle explores the human condition under cramped and monotonous workday reality, exposing an underlying counterbalance of freedom and anarchy.

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s bold vision – top global choreographers, distinctive groundbreaking repertoire and virtuoso dancers – has fostered a jewel of a dance company in the American West. The company’s pioneering spirit arises from a dual set of home cities: Aspen, nestled in the Rocky Mountains, and Santa Fe, gracing the southwestern plateau.

Shaping the cultural landscape of these communities – and influencing the dance field at large – is a contemporary ballet company now two decades old.

A deep commitment to curating new ballets while cultivating choreographic talent has resulted in a catalog of adventurous repertoire. A European sensibility glossed with American ebullience forges ASFB’s aesthetic, as the company has come to epitomize the contemporary-classical genre.

The company’s program includes Silent Ghost (2015) by Alejandro Cerrudo, the resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.”Poetic” is the word Tom Mossbrucker. artistic director of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, uses when describing this new work. “There’s lots of imagery of two people interacting in an emotional way. It’s very loving, very connected.”