Ballet AZ Blog

Behind-The-Scenes of The Four Seasons with Ib Andersen


Ballet Arizona Artistic Director, Ib Andersen, painting costumes for "The Four Seasons."
Ballet Arizona Artistic Director, Ib Andersen, painting costumes for “The Four Seasons.”

Give us an update on Ballet Arizona and the dancers – how are things?

I am still amazed that we were able to do so much this year. It has only been because of the support from the people in this community, and for that, I am very thankful. We were in a good financial situation, to begin with, and had we not been, we would not have been able to pull this year off. The generosity from everyone has been overwhelming and inspiring.

Artistically, I re-choreographed The Nutcracker and did two new ballets, Goldberg Variations and Boléro. I am surprised at how much I have done, but also know that these ballets need to be seen in an environment where we have the right lighting and staging. So I must say, my proudest artistic achievement is simply: we have been able to continue on, keep the company together, and keep the dancers dancing.

The dancers feel so relieved. The ballet world is small and they have friends all over. They see what other companies are doing – which is not much. They have a paycheck and they are able to go to work every single day which makes a big difference. I honestly don’t know how they are doing it. At least they are maintaining their shape and technique, even if it can’t be at their full capacity. I cannot even fathom how hard it would be to get a company together and in shape after such a long time off. For us, all it will take is simply not wearing masks to get in our best shape.

Let’s talk about the excitement around your upcoming world premiere, The Four Seasons.

What is most exciting for all of us is that we will finally have a shared experience together, once again, and that is cause for celebration.

I would like to say I chose Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons because of the beautiful four seasons in Arizona, but that is not the case. We have hot and not so hot! It’s hard to find music that connects with what we are trying to do on the Desert Botanical Garden stage. The vastness of that grand space and the big desert sky requires something extra special. It is one of the most famous and recognizable pieces of music and I think it will translate well.

The last day I choreographed for this piece was March 13, 2020, and that feels like it was eight years ago. I had to stop completely and have not touched it since. I will need to get back into the groove again before finishing the remaining choreography and immerse myself in what I have already done. We have videos from last year, but none of it has been rehearsed, been touched, no changes, no shaping, just a bunch of steps right now. It needs a lot of refinement.

The biggest challenge I find choreographing is not the difficulty of the music, or the venue, or even dealing with COVID now. The biggest challenge is to make sure that you are always challenging yourself. You need to constantly push yourself to go further, do something new, let the movement take you somewhere you haven’t been before. I can’t say right now if I have succeeded in that yet. I will know once I get back in the studios.

For the costumes, I actually spent five weeks over the summer quarantine working in the costume shop. I didn’t intend to do that initially, but then I had a vision for what I wanted, coupled with my need to have a constant creative outlet, so I just started painting. I painted close to 100 costumes. They are all fairly abstract, with bursts of color – but reminiscent of spring, summer, fall, and winter. It was a time-consuming project, but something different for me artistically.

Costumes for “The Four Seasons” painted by Artistic Director, Ib Anderen.

Read Swan Lake at the Garden

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