28 October 2021
Behind The Scenes with Ib Andersen: 2020-2021 Season
How did you feel when you heard the news of the Virginia G. Piper gift to Ballet Arizona?
Truly extraordinary! The fact that they have the means and the foresight to do this, will have such an influence on the entire arts community. Without these grants – as we are all trying to recover from the aftermath and the current effects facing us from the pandemic – it would be too horrible to even think about what might have happened. We are honored to be a beneficiary of such monumental giving and I am thankful to all of the Piper Trustees who made this gift possible.
How does it feel to be back in the studios?
We are coming out of COVID – or at least that is what it feels like – but the reality is we are still very much in it. You can sense that from everyone. We aren’t quite sure what will come next and we are still holding our breath in terms of what will happen a month or two from now. But I will say, it feels good to be back in the studios and the dancers are working very hard.
We finished our Ballet Under the Stars park shows. This was our 24th year out in the community and our first year back to Glendale at the historic Sahuaro Ranch Park. It just felt so good to be performing again.
We are rehearsing for Contemporary Moves which will be held in Dorrance Theatre this fall as opposed to Orpheum Theatre. We have performed each of these pieces before, but not together, so it will be an eclectic mix with Frederick Ashton’s Les Patineurs (The Skaters), Justin Peck’s In Creases, and Nayon Iovino’s Mambaz. An old one and then two fairly recent ballets – each with very different aesthetics.
Tell us a bit about the world premiere of Juan Gabriel
It was a very productive summer. Our Costume Director, Leonor Texidor, and I went to Mexico City to meet with Designer, Carla Fernández. She is an incredible fashion designer – internationally-renown as one of the top in the world right now. We are lucky to have her. She grew up listening to Juan Gabriel, or Juanga, as many people call him, and is excited to be a part of this project with us. I love that she uses iconography in her designs that showcase the legacy of the Indigenous communities and people of Mexico.
We are also working with a videographer, Jacob Pinholster, who is the associate dean for enterprise design and operations for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU. The ballet is centered around Juan Gabriel’s live performance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City from 1990, and so we are adding clips from this live performance as a new element. He will be working on the content for the video projection with our Lighting Designer, Michael Korsch. The goal is that you will get the sense of that continuity that comes from a live concert – especially from a pop artist. That is what it is about. The process is a strange thing…you think you are doing one thing and heading in one direction and then the end result is something completely different. It’s a work in progress.
Being in Mexico and talking to so many people about Juan Gabriel, I learned so much. Their love of him could be from childhood memories, or from a romance gone right… or wrong! I have never come across an artist that was and still is, so beloved with such deep and universal passion. I keep thinking, “What is a Dane doing, trying to choreograph a ballet to this revered Mexican Artist? Am I crazy?” I am terrified, but, I think about how much his music inspires me and I am passionate about showcasing his artistry in a completely different medium.