The first time I went to the ballet, I couldn’t help but be enchanted. I was a child, and my exotic, much older second cousin was a “real” ballerina, breezing through town in vibrant stage makeup and a beautiful costume as part of a national tour. To top it off, the production was housed in an ornate downtown theater I’d only ever been to on elementary school field trips.
Despite the impression it left, about as close as I get to ballet anymore is in a local park each fall.
Ballet Arizona’s Ballet Under the Stars is a series of free performances put on each September in public parks across central Arizona. The show is mounted on a stage, with professional dancers, lighting and costumes. It’s a laid back way to see an artform that can seem like something only fancy people do — really, you can bring a blanket or lawn chair.
Children are welcome, too. In fact, it makes a great first foray into ballet, and local schoolchildren who have been working with Ballet Arizona dancers to create a routine will perform at all but the Casa Grande engagement.
The tour stops Sept. 27 in Tempe, where hot dogs, chips and soft drinks will be for sale, but a trek to Fountain Hills on Sept. 26 might be worthwhile. That show will be staged in Fountain Park, and its majestic mountain views and towering, 560-foot water fountain could make the experience as memorable as my own first trip to the ballet.
IF YOU GO
All performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free to attend. For information, call (602) 381-0184 or visit BalletAZ.org.
Thursday, Sept. 19: Beardsley Park, Sun City West
Friday, Sept. 20: Estrella Lakeside Amphitheater, Goodyear
Saturday, Sept. 21: Paul Mason Sports Complex, Casa Grande
Thursday, Sept. 26: Fountain Park, Fountain Hills
Friday, Sept. 27: Tempe Center for the Arts Amphitheater