New Location Ready for Overture: Ballet Arizona Moves Downtown

When the school year begins in 2012, Ballet Arizona will be in a new location closer to downtown Phoenix. The former furniture warehouse at Washington between 28th and 29th streets is undergoing a renovation to get ready for students and professional dancers. Soon, they’ll be tripping the light fantastic instead of tripping over sofas and lounge chairs.

“Right now, we’re basically in a shopping center with only three dance studios,” says Jon Teeuwissen, executive director of Ballet Arizona. “The professional dancers share the space with the School of Ballet Arizona, and that’s hard scheduling for everyone.”

Ballet Arizona includes a professional dance company and a ballet school. The new location contains 45,000 square feet, compared with the current building at 12,000 square feet. There are also 10,000 square feet leased for the school. The new facility will include seven large studios, more office space, bigger dressing rooms, and a black-box theater with retractable seating for 299 people. The main performances will still be held at Symphony Hall.

Teeuwissen came to the organization a year ago as a management consultant but became the full-time executive director this summer. He served as executive director of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago from 2001 to 2008 and organized a $35 million capital campaign for the ballet, which eventually culminated in a new home for the company in downtown Chicago: the Joffrey Tower. He was there for most of the planning of the new building in Chicago and is now going through the same thing here.

“To me, ballet is about movement,” Teeuwissen says. “It is physical. It is about the human form conveying emotion. People who don’t know ballet have a very limited impression of what ballet is. I believe they think it is Swan Lake or Cinderella. Although those are beautiful parts of ballet, they are just a small part of what dance can represent.”

Teeuwissen believes that many people have never experienced a professional dance performance. Their only experience is sitting through a dreaded dance recital featuring their own kids or nieces and nephews.

“You watch dance after dance, and in most cases, it is quite boring,” he says. “But ballet is amazing dancing with beautiful sets and décor. Even if you didn’t like dance, shut your eyes and you can hear how beautiful the symphonic music can be.”

The School of Ballet Arizona offers classes that children and adults will enjoy and benefit from, whether for performance, to get in shape, or to just have fun. More than 35,000 children get to glimpse the world of ballet by way of community outreach and education programs through the school.

A major focus of the school is to prepare students for a professional dance career with Ballet Arizona or other internationally recognized companies. The school is led by Director Carlos Valcárcel and renowned Ballet Arizona Artistic Director Ib Andersen. Andersen is a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet and The Royal Danish Ballet.

Ballet Arizona’s twenty-sixth season begins in October with Cinderella, which runs from Oct. 20–23. The Nutcracker can add that extra holiday spirit to all ages when it runs from Dec. 9–24.
Sleeping Beauty is scheduled for Feb. 10–12, 2012. In designing the new season, Andersen expanded the company’s repertoire and will showcase the dancers’ skills and artistry. He also wants to engage both loyal followers and new ballet-goers. The Phoenix Symphony plays for all Ballet performances held at Symphony Hall, with the exception of one production at the Orpheum Theater.

For additional information on Ballet Arizona, including ticket and schedule information, visit For tickets, call the box office at (602) 381-1096.

By Lee Nelson

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