Ballet AZ Blog

Building A Ballet: The Rite of Spring

Artistic Director, Ib Andersen, painting costumes for The Rite of Spring at Ballet Arizona’s costume shop.

With the world premiere of Artistic Director, Ib Andersen’s The Rite of Spring just weeks away, we are taking you on the journey of building a ballet from scratch.

In 2012, Ballet Arizona and Desert Botanical Garden launched a singular partnership, bringing together the striking beauty of dance and our desert landscape. In the years since, Ballet Arizona has premiered five new works including Topia, Eroica, and The Four Seasons. Located in the Garden’s Schilling Events Plaza, these productions provide our audience a glimpse of what it takes to bring a ballet to the stage.

Of course, it all begins with an idea and for Ib, choreographing to Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring was always in the cards.

“For me, making a ballet starts with the music. Once you find the piece, you have to listen to the music over and over; it almost becomes part of you. Thankfully, I know this score intimately. I have listened to it since I was a teenager, performed the ballet in the seventies – it has always been in my brain.”

During his travels this past summer, Ib had a dream that cemented his vision for the new work. From there, he turned to the studios to start choreographing.

evening-building-image“Choreographing is never straightforward. Even if I have an overall vision for the ballet, the actual choreography begins as a vague idea. I am very open in the studio and that process can take you anywhere… sometimes a completely different direction. Thinking of steps and seeing it on the dancers does not always translate. They also bring things out of me that I was not expecting – that is beauty of creating new things.”

Beyond the rehearsal studio, comes the production work. For these performances, it entails more than set and costume design, it means building a venue from the ground up. Outside. In the desert. With an incredible 60-foot stage, rows of lighting towers, and speakers, The Rite of Spring will feature new set pieces, inspired by the Papago Buttes.

For costumes, Ib has again turned to his other artistic passions, painting! “The costumes will have painted fabric, mixed with other elements. I am very hands-on in the design and creation process and have worked with our Costume Director, Leonor Texidor, for many years. I love seeing these things come to life.”

These productions do so much more than bring new works to life. They show you the immediate impact of your support. From watching our company dancers warm up and our stage crew preparing for the “curtain” to go up, to the hundreds of patrons experiencing their first ballet, it is all possible because of you.

Reflecting on what this partnership has meant for Ballet Arizona, Ib says, “It is magic. When the sun sets as you are sitting outside and the performance begins, it really does have magic. These productions are so challenging and intensive but they have made us more innovative. It has been one of the greatest privileges to create these ballets and share them with our audience.”

Read ‘Behind-the-Scenes of All Balanchine with Ib Andersen

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