Set the Stage: BALANCHINE
Ballet Arizona Presents a Collection of Digital
Performances and an Awards Celebration on May 8
Text and Images Courtesy of Ballet Arizona

Above: Ballet Arizona dancers in Walpurgisnacht. Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.

This special digital performance showcases some of Ballet Arizona’s favorite Balanchine performance moments along with a spirited finale from Nayon Iovino’s celebrated and electric Mambaz. Set the Stage: Balanchine combines Ballet Arizona’s reimagined 2021 gala, Set the Stage, with these favorite performance excerpts.

In the past, the Dance with Me Gala has been a night to remember – one that brings patrons together to support the mission of Ballet Arizona, the critically-acclaimed artistic product, The School, and all community engagement efforts. Unfortunately, the events of COVID prohibit us from holding this critical fundraising event in-person. 

Above: Ballet Arizona dancer Erick Garnica in Emeralds. Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Set the Stage sponsors and donors contributed to support Ballet Arizona’s mission while simultaneously making this digital performance FREE to the entire community in both English and Spanish. Neither cost, nor geography will limit access to this inspiring art.

Set the Stage: BALANCHINE will be a one-hour production that invites viewers to celebrate the perseverance of the Ballet Arizona family – dancers, staff, faculty, students, donors, sponsors, volunteers –  over the past year and look forward to “setting the stage” for an exhilarating return to the main stage for its 2021-2022 season. 

Above: Ballet Arizona dancers in Symphony in Three Movements. Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Viewers will also witness the presentation of the 2021 Hazel Hare Award of Artistic Excellence. Established in 2018, it is awarded to a male and female dancer whose spirit echoes the strength, dedication, and passion that Hazel exemplified throughout her entire life.

The Set the Stage: BALANCHINE virtual performance will be available on Ballet Arizona’s Vimeo channel starting at 7p.m. MST on May 8. To learn more about how to watch Ballet Arizona’s content on Vimeo, click here. The video link will also be sent out via e-mail just before 7 p.m. MST on Saturday, May 8,  so be sure you’re on the BAZ e-mail list.

To sign up visit where there’s an e-mail sign-up form on the bottom right corner of the homepage. Those registered will be sent the Set the Stage: BALANCHINE link which also will be posted to the performance landing page.

Here’s a summary of the six works included in the program. 

Note: The works included in this digital performance are from 

previously recorded Ballet Arizona performances pre-COVID.

Above: Ballet Arizona dancers Jillian Barrell and Helio Lima in Mambaz. Choreography by Nayon Iovino. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

Emeralds, 1st Movement

Music: from Pelléas et Melisande, 1898, and Shylock, 1889

Composer: Gabriel Fauré

Balanchine considered Emeralds “an evocation of France — the France of elegance, comfort, dress, perfume.” It harkens back to the 19th century dances of the French Romantics.

Walpurgisnacht Ballet, 1st Movement

Music: From Faust

Composer: Charles Gounod

Walpurgisnacht Ballet premiered in 1975 and was choreographed for a production of Faust danced by the Paris Opéra Ballet. The New York City Ballet premiere in 1981 was the first presentation of the choreography as an independent work.

Symphony in Three Movements, 1st Movement

Music: Symphony in Three Movements

Composer: Igor Stravinsky

One Balanchine’s most celebrated ballets, Symphony in Three Movements is energetic, complex and athletic. It was introduced on opening night of the 1972 Stravinsky Festival.

La Sonnambula, Pas de Deux

Music: By Vittorio Rieti, based on themes from operas by Vincenzo Bellini (1830-35, including La Sonnambula, I Puritani, Norma, and I Capuletti ed i Montecchi).

Composer: Vittorio Rietti/Vincenzo Bellini

Set in a darkly mysterious masked ball, the one-act La Sonnambula (originally called Night Shadow) tells the story of a Poet who plays suit to a Coquette. In a moment alone from the party, an apparition in white enters and appears to the Poet. She is a beautiful Sleepwalker. She entrances the Poet and despite his many tries to wake her, she eludes him. This central pas de deux outlines the spirit of the 19th century Romantic movement in stark contrast to the conventions it detested.

Western Symphony, Final Movement

Music: Traditional American melodies

Composer: Hershy Kay

Western Symphony marries traditional ballet vocabulary with steps and gestures from American folk dancing. Set on a rugged Old West street filled with cowboys and dance hall girls, this Balanchine work is a clear example of Balanchine’s fascination with American themes.

Mambaz, Excerpts

Music: Historia de un Amor and Mambo No. 5

Composer: Carlos Eleta Almarán and Pérez Prado

From celebrated Ballet Arizona choreographer and Company Dancer Nayon Iovino comes the electric audience favorite, Mambaz. Iovino’s rich, fun and lively movement vocabulary coupled with Perez’s showmanship and energy bring the party to the stage with Mambaz.