Dance & Dessert: the best of both worlds

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Ed Flores and Ed Flores | The Daily Wildcat Ballet Tucson Dancers Charles Clark & Shannon Quirk In George Balanchine’s “ Concerto Barocco”.

Enjoy a mixed repertoire of ballet dances and dessert tastings at Tucson Ballet’s spring concert season finale on the University of Arizona campus.

Dance & Dessert is an amalgam of different kinds of ballet pieces, from humorous theatrical dance pieces to the premiere of George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco”. Mary Beth Cabana, the founding artistic director of Tucson Ballet, said she is excited to bring the show to the audiences.

“Dance & Dessert is a festive way to end our 2019-2020 season,” Cabana said in an email. “Not only is the programming exciting and eclectic, but to top it all off, gourmet dessert tastings are served at the conclusion of each performance. This gives the event an extra special celebratory feeling!” 

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Ballet Tucson Board of Directors member Vivian VanPeenen discussed how the show is a well-rounded look at ballet and is entertaining to loyal ballet-goers and those who have never seen a dance performance before.

“Our patrons really appreciate the quality of our dancers,” VanPeenen commented. “[The show] is really astounding. The Tucson community is fortunate to have a Balanchine ballet presented.”

According to VanPeenen, ballet companies have to go through a very specific process in order to be allowed to perform a Balanchine.

“Only professional ballet companies can perform these pieces,” VanPeenen explained. “We work with a professional stager who flies out from New York to make sure we are performing them as they should be. It’s an amazing opportunity for our dancers to dance these rolls, and for the Tucson community to get to attend a Balanchine.”

Cabana had the opportunity to perform in “Concerto Barocco” herself, once as a young professional and a second time as a principal ballerina. The piece is set to Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Concerto in D minor for Two Violins" as a dance visualization which first debuted in New York in 1948, according to Tucson Ballet’s website.

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“I am extremely excited about the Ballet Tucson premiere of George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco,” Cabana said in an email. “I am very pleased to bring this ballet to our company of dancers and to our audiences.”

Molly Huempfner has been dancing for about 20 years, seven of which have been professional. She is one of the dancers in the Balanchine piece.

“It has been an absolute honor to be a part of this show,” Huempfner said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to dance in as a ballerina. The [Balanchine] is extremely technical. It’s ballet in its purest form.”

Dancing in a Balanchine not only requires the ballerinas to use a lot of specific technique, but also a certain artistry, which is what makes the ballet so challenging to execute, according Huempfner.

“If you haven’t ever seen ballet, this is the ballet to attend because not only do we have the classical Balanchine, but there are also theatrical pieces,” Huempfner said. “It’s family friendly, and it just plays to a lot of different walks of life. That’s why I love Dance & Dessert.”

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Donated by fine restaurants across Tucson, the dessert tastings at the end of the show will be works of art to behold all of their own, according to VanPeenen.

“Professional arts in our community are essential for our quality of life,” VanPeenen remarked. “To have the level of professional ballet production that we have is an honor and makes up a piece of the quality of life and art in the Tucson community.”

Dance & Dessert premieres the weekend of March 13-15 with showtimes on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $45 for general admission, $40 for seniors, military and students and $35 for groups according to the website

“Get up off your couch and come to this show,” VanPeenen laughed, “because not only will you be introduced to world-class ballet, but you will get to have dessert afterward, which is definitely better than sitting on the couch.”

Whether you want to have a good time, to laugh, to see ballet or simply to eat a slice of cake, Dance & Dessert seems to have it all.

As Cabana worded it, “What could be better? — Balanchine, Ballet and Bach!”



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