Ballet AZ Blog

Prima Circle’s Evening in Fair Verona

What a great evening we had on January 27. It was a fun and information packed night to thank Prima Circle members for their generosity and support of Ballet Arizona. It was the perfect mix of learning more about the art form we adore, a delicious dinner, mingling with dancers, and watching a rehearsal of Romeo and Juliet. All while enjoying new and old friendships we have made by being a part of this group of balletomanes.

Learning Dance

It was an early start (4:30!) to have time for all of the activities that were planned. While enjoying wine and appetizers, we listened to dance educator, Katherine Barber, discuss the ways Prokofiev used different musical themes to convey various characters and their story arches. I, for one, will do a lot more listening and not just watching when I attend the ballet from now on!

Katherine's Presentation

Katherine’s presentation was followed by a short Q&A with Ib Andersen about his thoughts on the upcoming production. I always love this part of our Prima Circle Studio Spotlight evenings, as Ib is always so honest and passionate about whatever he has chosen to produce. This was especially true tonight, as he told us about why Romeo and Juliet is so close to his heart. When he danced the role of Romeo as a 19 year old for the Denmark Ballet he became the rage of Copenhagen. The role became his claim to fame. He also loves this ballet because it is about real emotions and what it means to be human and in love…”the ultimate love story”.

Prima Circle

Next was a family style, Italian dinner, so generously hosted by Don & Susie Fowls and John & Ricki Dee Jennings. These dinners become more fun each year as Prima Circle continues to grow in size and enthusiasm for Ballet Arizona.

Then it was over to the Studio Spotlight rehearsal, where the audience was treated to a Q & A with Phoenix Symphony conductor, Tim Russell. He discussed the challenges of Prokofiev’s score. From the sheer size of the orchestra necessary to perform the piece to needing to hold himself back from crying at the end of the performance because of the intense emotions that the combination of ballet and music create.

Studio Spotlight performances

Finally, we watched a rehearsal of Romeo & Juliet’s 2nd act. I always love Studio Spotlight performances because they make me realize how hard the dancers work and how difficult what they’re doing really is. Because the audience is just a few feet from the dancers, we see the sweat, the occasional grimaces and groans when working through technical difficulties, and even an occasional missed step. If I were to only see the performances at Symphony Hall with the orchestra, the lights, the sets, the costumes and the dancers making it look so easy, I would appreciate much less the magic of how it all comes together so beautifully.

Dance Class

Afterward, the audience got to ask the dancers a few questions about their thoughts on dancing for Ballet Arizona. I love hearing these talented young artists articulate their inspiration, challenges, and passion for dance. It was especially endearing when Nayon Iovino and Jillian Barrell (dancing the roles of Juliet and Romeo) revealed that they just got engaged to each other in real life. Talk about the ultimate love story!

Last was a glass of champagne, dessert, and a little mingling with the dancers. The night had it all—learning much more about the art form I love so dearly, wine, food, friends, ballet and love!

Author Betsy Curley

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