Lisa R Chow, ADC President, 602-740-9616 PO Box 64852-4852, Phoenix AZ.

DESERT DANCE THEATRE TURNS 40: Making Dance History in Arizona

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DESERT DANCE THEATRE TURNS 40: Making Dance History in Arizona

June 7, 2019 @ 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm MST

$75 – $500

Desert Dance Theatre invites you to its 40th Anniversary Fundraising Event, “DESERT DANCE THEATRE TURNS 40: Making Dance History in Arizona” at the Arizona Heritage Center/Arizona Historical Society, 1300 N. College Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281, on June 7, 2019 at 6:30pm-10:00pm. This festive event will celebrate Desert Dance Theatre’s accomplishments and longevity as a moving force in Arizona’s Dance and Arts community. We will also be recognizing three Special Guest Honorees: Catherine “Rusty” Foley (Arizona Citizens for the Arts), Floyd A. Galloway (The Alvin Galloway Show/Arizona Informant Newspaper), and John Henry Waddell (Sculpture Artist). 

The evening will include: reception with drinks and appetizers, entertainment, buffet dinner, recognition presentation and silent auction. The delectables will be prepared by Dancing Chef Catering ~ Chef Mark Vanek.

For 40 years, the company has provided quality educational and community programs and services in schools and communities throughout Arizona. A majority of our work is designed to fit the needs of each school or community. We are inviting you or your organization to help us to continue our work, and to help us to celebrate this important milestone.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the company relies on the support of individuals and businesses like yours to help support our programs and services. We are asking for your support by attending our fundraising event on June 7th. Please purchase your ticket(s) today! An Individual Ticket is $75 and a Sponsor Table for 8 People is $500. Ticket Reservations may be purchased via

If you are unable to attend, we would appreciate a tax-deductible donation or donation of goods and/or services that would directly enhance our fundraising efforts and aid us in achieving our future goals! You or your company will be acknowledged for your donation at the fundraising event and in next season’s programs. Contact us to receive information regarding donations, sponsoring a table at the event, program ads, underwriting, volunteer opportunities or become a Friends of Desert Dance Theatre contributor at gro.ertaehTecnaDtreseDnull@asil or call/text me at 602-740-9616.

Please attend this event and help Desert Dance Theatre celebrate this momentous occasion!

$75 Individual (by May 24)
$85 Individual (between May 25-June 3)
$500 Sponsor Table of 8 People (by May 24)
$600 Sponsor Table of 8 People (between May 25-June 3)


RESERVATION FORM (Mail-in or PayPal):

EVENTBRITE (Service fees apply)

Individual –  $75 (by May 24):

Individual – $85 (between May 25-June 3):

Sponsor Table for 8 – $500 (by May 24):

Sponsor Table for 8 – $600 (between May 25-June 3):

Celebrating A History of Dance in Arizona

Desert Dance Theatre is celebrating 40 years as a contemporary dance theatre company in Arizona. Founded by four ASU Dance Graduates in 1979, the company has continued to provide an eclectic variety of dance in the current repertory, ranging from classical, comical, abstract and theatrical. The company is comprised of experienced performers, choreographers and enthusiastic educators who strive to bring openness, spontaneity and diversity to the public. The company offers a variety of quality programs to schools and communities that are inspiring, entertaining and educational, including: master classes, lecture demonstrations, performances and residencies. The company has toured and performed in Arizona, California, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and throughout Mexico. Desert Dance Theatre also specializes in theme-related programs that focus on cultural diversity and about the lives of prominent people who have fought for freedom in America. We have created a trilogy of civil rights productions, “Free At Last” (tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), “Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman” (highlights of Harriet Tubman’s life and work in the Underground Railroad) and “Judgments” (commentary on racial and social discrimination). Each of these programs may be featured along with current repertory for main-stage performances. The company has also collaborated with String Sounds (string quartet), touring and performing for several thousands of children in elementary schools since 1985-2011. Through its Guest Choreographer Series, the company also performs commissioned works by choreographers of national and international acclaim. The new works continue to enhance the diversity of the current repertory. Since 2000, Desert Dance Theatre has presented the Arizona Dance Festival, featuring dance artists and companies of all genres from Arizona, regionally and internationally.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN – A History of Dance in Arizona

It’s amazing to think that this Arizona dance company has survived in the desert for 40 years.

Desert Dance Theatre was founded by four ASU dance graduates: Billbob Brown, Dotti Anderson, Margie Romero, and Debbie Schofield, who wanted to dance professionally, but didn’t want to move to New York or California. During that time in 1979, there were no professional contemporary or modern dance companies in the Valley. The only professional dance company was the Mesa Civic Ballet and a couple of small non-professional dance groups that performed on occasion. Those companies don’t exist anymore.

The four ASU dance graduates created Desert Dance Theatre, focused on education and entertainment through their work. This served as an outlet for dancers to perform professionally and to fill a void in the artistic and cultural needs in communities throughout Arizona. After getting incorporated and obtaining its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, the company joined the artist roster of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which gave them opportunities to tour all over the state of Arizona and tour throughout Mexico on the Bi-Cultural Touring Program.

Desert Dance Theatre soon gained a reputation for creating meaningful works which both challenged and delighted audiences with its topical messages, from its first performance of Judgments, an evening-length work about racism, to its collaborations with the internationally-renowned group Special EFX, the Phoenix Symphony, String Sounds, Musica Dolce, Childsplay, and other groups, connecting children and adults with a wider world of professional-quality dance performance. Sister Moses: The Story of Harriet Tubman, continues to be performed while educating its audiences about American History through dance, music and drama.

The founding members and earlier generations of dancers received much encouragement and inspiration from the late Marion Kirk Jones, an ASU dance professor, who mentored hundreds of dance students and acted as a consulting director for Desert Dance Theatre since its beginning in 1979. Marion had contributed as a choreographer, artistic director and administrator on its board of directors. Her previous dance experiences included: dancer in the Lester Horton Dance Company, trained with modern dance pioneers –  Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Hanya Holm, Ted Shawn and Louis Horst; and trained at the School of American Ballet with George Balanchine, Anatol Oboukhoff, Pierre Vladimiroff and Muriel Stuart.

Billbob Brown, a founding member, was the Artistic Director of Desert Dance Theatre for the first 10 years. Then Marion Kirk Jones served as the Artistic Director with Lisa R. Chow as the Assistant Artistic Director/Company Manager and Renee Davis as the Rehearsal Director/Costumer. A few years later, Lisa R. Chow assumed the role as Artistic Director and continues to do so with Renee Davis and Step Raptis as Associate Artistic Directors.

Chow and Raptis created other opportunities for dancers and musicians through various interdisciplinary outlets, such as Crossroads Performance Group and Step’s Junk Funk.


Catherine “Rusty” Foley has served as Executive Director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts since July 2011, after serving on the organization’s Board of Directors since 2003.

Ms. Foley has had an extensive career as a communications and public affairs professional and community leader, including 25 years with Salt River Project (an Arizona water and power utility) as a government affairs representative, and later, an executive manager in communications, community relations and corporate philanthropy.

She has been the chair of Valley Leadership, Arizona’s premier leadership development program; a vice president of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce; chair of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission; chair of the Experience Matters Consortium, and a board member of the Valley of the Sun United Way and various other civic and community service organizations.

As an arts advocate, she’s also served as a board member of Arizona Theater Company, Childsplay and the Phoenix Art Museum Corporate Council. She was the Phoenix Arts and Business Council’s 2007 Arts Board Member of the Year, received Phoenix Theatre’s “Women Who Care” award, 2009, and was the Arizona Capitol Times 2012 Leader in Public Policy for Arts and Humanities.

In 2018, she received the Raymond G. Van Diest Music Advocacy Award from the Arizona Music Educators Association, and was recognized by the Museum Association of Arizona with its 2019 Community Support Award.

She is also a member of the Americans for the Arts’ State Arts Advocacy Network.

Floyd Alvin Galloway, a native of Rockford, Illinois, is a long time Arizona resident.  He is a freelance reporter, photographer, entrepreneur and all-around troublemaker. He is the owner of Great Press America, a media relations company and the host/producer of The Alvin Galloway Show, Sundays, on Radio Phoenix.

As a freelancer, Galloway has been a contributor to Minority Engineer Magazine, Arizona Informant Newspaper, Trice Edney News Wire service and other media outlets, including WVON’s Perri Small Show.

He has been a news junkie since his early childhood, reading the local newspaper with his father before his father, a factory worker and union organizer, left for work early in the morning. Some of his journalist heroes were Gordon Parks, Vernon Jarrett, David Brinkley and Chet Hundley, Charlene Hunter-Gault among others.

A community advocate, he has served in leadership positions in civil rights and community organizations. He is the past Board treasurer of the Arizona Center for Disability Law, and continues to serve on the ACDL board. Mr. Galloway is very active in his church, Historic Tanner Chapel AME Church, serving in numerous auxiliaries including Trustee Board, Jubilee Choir, Boy Scouts, Men’s Day and others.

Mr. Galloway led the reactivation of the East Valley Branch of the NAACP in AZ with the late Min. James Toppin in 1993. Served as East Valley NAACP President for nearly 10 years, instituting numerous programs and initiatives during his tenure. He is a former NAACP Western Region 1 Resolutions committee member of the NAACP Nat. Convention.

He is the recipient of several awards including inaugural Si Se Puede – Cesar Chavez Community Service award in 2001, the East Valley NAACP President’s award recipient twice, African Methodist Episcopal Man of Thunder award 2013, the National Council of Negro Women- Metropolitan Phoenix Chapter’s Man of Valor awardee in 2013, Hon. Coy C. Payne Man of the Year award 2015, Society of Professional Journalists Sun Valley Chapter – Silver Key award recipient and others.

The father of Jessica Nia Anne, and the grandfather of Jordynn, his 5 year old granddaughter and year old grandson  Elias, they are the joys of his life. Mr. Galloway’s motto is: “It’s a great day to make somebody’s day great!”

John Henry Waddell, born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1921, began teaching art to adults when he was 16. After Army service, he achieved his MFA and MAE from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Waddell headed art education at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, then at Arizona State University, before retiring from university teaching at age 40 to allow full time for his mostly figurative art.

In 1963, the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young black girls, prompted Waddell to create a memorial monument entitled “That Which Might Have Been,” a grouping of four bronze figures, representing the women these little girls might have grown up to be. This work, now displayed at Carver Civil Rights Museum, marks a turning point in Waddell’s work. Though earlier he had been a social significance painter, representing the ills of society, his interest now turned to the beauty of  individuals, and later, to their potential for positive interaction.

In 1964 Waddell and his family moved to Greece with a commission to create the public sculpture “Family.” During the following two and a half years, he exhibited his work in Athens.

As Waddell’s work in groupings of figures continued, the need for more studio space and creative serenity took him further away from America’s art centers and deeper into the remote wilds of the Southwest landscape. Here he built a magnificent studio. Apprentices came from all over the world to study with Waddell. The 12 over life size figure composition “Dance” was completed here.

Away from changing modes of the art world, Waddell entered what would be the most prolific period of his life thus far. He has sculpted over 150 life size, and over life size bronze figurative sculptures, many small figures, as well as paintings and drawings.

In 1984 a devastating fire burnt his studio to the ground. All of Waddell’s sketch books from childhood on up, many paintings and sketches, the family home and the plaster molds that would have made multiple castings of his work possible – were destroyed. Nine months later, the Waddells had built a new studio, and “Generations,” a new monumental sculptural grouping was in progress.

In 2007, tragedy struck again, when eight over life size sculptures, a decade in the making, were stolen and melted down into scrap metal. John and Ruth Waddell, now in their eighties, made the decision to use their savings to recast the stolen grouping, “Generations.” It is this will to persevere, as well as their unique dedication to a life in art, that continues to lure many artists, patrons and interested individuals of all ages to the Waddell studio and sculpture garden year round.

In 1997, at the age of 76, Waddell began his third major multi-figure relief: “Rising.”

In 2007, Waddell revealed an image of this new relief at San Diego Museum of Art, where he had been invited to speak on the later stages of creativity and his experience, at the age of 86, of working toward completion of this epic relief.

For more information call Desert Dance Theatre, 480-962-4584 or go to

DDT 40 Poster 5-2-2019


June 7, 2019
6:30 pm - 10:00 pm MST
$75 – $500
Event Category:


Desert Dance Theatre
View Organizer Website


Arizona Heritage Center
1300 N. College Avenue
Tempe, 85281 United States
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