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

Desert Dance presents BACK UP/MOVE FORWARD: 40th Anniversary Concert (Tempe)

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Desert Dance presents BACK UP/MOVE FORWARD: 40th Anniversary Concert (Tempe)

November 23, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm MST

$13 – $25


BACK UP/MOVE FORWARD: 40th Anniversary Concert

November 23, 2019 at 7:00pm

Tempe Center for the Arts – Theater
700 West Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, AZ 85281

$25 Adult, $20 Senior, $15 Student & Military, $13 Group of 10+ / Arizona Dance Coalition (ADC) / Arizona Presenters Alliance (APA) / Arizona Dance Education Organization (AzDEO), $12 Friends of Desert Dance Theatre (FODDT) (plus service and convenience fees, $1 per ticket via phone or in person, $3 per ticket online)

TICKETS? TCA Box Office: (480) 350-2822 (480-350-2TCA) or

Direct Ticket Link:

INFO: or 480-962-4584


BACK UP/MOVE FORWARD: 40th Anniversary Concert

Desert Dance Theatre celebrates their 40th year of existence by presenting favorite past works and new premiere works in BACK UP/MOVE FORWARD: 40th Anniversary Concert at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Saturday, November 23, 2019 at 7:00pm. Cake and beverages will be served after the show in the lobby.

The concert will feature an eclectic array of dances including choreography by guest and in-house choreographers: Billbob Brown, Lisa R. Chow, Candy Jimenez, Danielle McNeal Johnson, Marion Kirk Jones, Step Raptis and Anandha Ray.

Billbob Brown, one of Desert Dance Theatre’s founding members and former Artistic Director, recreates a revised premiere of “Rotator 360” which is built upon the concept of joint rotation, and visual rotation: 45, 90, 180, and finally 360 degrees. Each version contains rotary moves that are created by the dancers themselves as they solve the movement puzzle in rehearsals. Remnants of previous versions since 1981 are still found in some of the sequences, and the dance continues to change as new dancers add to it. The words in the last section are from a nonsensical Dadaist poem by Hugo Ball circa 1919.

One of our favorite past dances, “Quickening” (1996) was choreographed by the late Marion Kirk Jones, Desert Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Emeritus. This piece will be performed and dedicated to the memory of Marion, who was a mentor to many dancers and students. This mesmerizing dance shows the gathering of strong women who have the power of creation. Many of Jones’ dance works focused on universal social issues as well as dramatic and fanciful artistic creations.

Lisa R. Chow, Desert Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, will present several of her various past dance works, including: “Fall to the Sky” (2009), “In Your Dreams” (1998) “Shadow” (2009) and “Strange Fruit” (2015).

“Fall to the Sky” (2009) is a collaboration that was inspired by an incredible collection of bronze reliefs by Arizona sculpture artist, John Henry Waddell and music by Chieli Minucci and Kris Lanzaro. Waddell’s work, called “Rising” had been completed after eleven years of hard work, and he had hoped to find a home for this collection, possibly in New York as a dedication to the victims of 911. Chieli’s music, “Jewel in the Desert Sky” was originally released as “Jewels” back in 1995 and was reworked, remixed, rearranged and completely rewritten, in collaboration with Lanzaro who lives in Germany. This process of completing the new rendition all took place via cyberspace! “Fall to the Sky” embraces the human spirit in search of enlightenment and peace. The collaboration was dedicated to the victims of 911, and to the memories of loved ones lost to disease, war and all tragedies.

Chow’s sense of humor comes out as “In Your Dreams” shows a comical view of a lonely man’s fantasy in pursuit of love and companionship. The typical singles bar scene transforms into a situation that many heterosexual males may only dream about.

Whereas, “Shadow” brings creative visuals and original music with a creative lighting concept. “Shadow” was choreographed in collaboration with Associate Artistic Director/Music Director, Step Raptis as part of Crossroads Performance Group, one of Desert Dance Theatre’s offshoot companies. Part of the music is performed live on stage in addition to recorded music. This piece was inspired by a photo taken by visual artist, Gary Hostallero. The image of the shadow may be interpreted in various ways by each viewer in the audience. This piece will be performed in memory of our dear friend, Gary.

Then, “Strange Fruit,” an excerpt from “A Tribute to Billie Holiday,” features solo dancer and Desert Dance Theatre’s Associate Artistic, Renee Davis. The original poem, “Strange Fruit” was written by Abel Meeropol in 1937 in protest to American racism, particularly to lynchings of African Americans throughout different regions of the United States. Meeropol set the poem to music which his wife and singer, Laura Duncan performed as a protest song in New York venues. The song was performed famously by Billie Holiday who first sang and recorded it in 1939.

An all time favorite is “Step Boom Bop,” a high energy and upbeat percussion and movement piece, created by Step Raptis, from another offshoot company, Step’s Junk Funk. This piece was premiered at the Arizona Dance Festival held at the Tempe Center for the Arts in 2006. “Step Boom Bop” continues to entertain audiences of all ages with its intricate rhythms and choreography.

Step’s Junk Funk has a wide appeal, conducive to school and community residency programs.

Desert Dance Theatre alumni dancers, Candy Jimenez and Danielle McNeal Johnson, will each premiere new works in the upcoming concert. Jimenez will premiere, “Lunar Orbit Rendezvous” set on three male dancers of similar stature, strength and athleticism. This is a timeless abstract work with limitless possibilities. Johnson will premiere, “Double J,” a work dedicated in loving memory of the life long friendship of her mother, Jan with her dearest friend, Joan. The piece celebrates those special friends who are always a part of our life whether near or far.

A featured work by special guest choreographer, Anandha Ray is “Journey of the Shadow Walkers,” an award-winning piece that was originally created in 2015, that has been performed internationally and in an honorary performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC for the National College Dance Festival. Desert Dance Theatre will perform the revised premiere version of the piece, customized in collaboration with the dancers in the cast.

Celebrate with us in an evening filled with memories as well as looking into the future. Then join us after the performance in the lobby for cake and beverages.

Desert Dance Theatre’s History in Arizona:

Desert Dance Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to develop, promote, and present contemporary dance theatre through main-stage performances, educational residencies, children’s programs, and master classes that contribute to the artistic and cultural growth of the Southwest, including thematic programs that speak to timely and relevant social issues.

As a nonprofit organization, we gladly accept donations and contributions to continue to provide quality artistic programs to schools and communities throughout Arizona and regionally. Please consider joining as a Friends of Desert Dance Theatre member or as a program ad sponsor.

DONATIONS can be made directly at

For more information: or 480-962-4584.



November 23, 2019
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm MST
$13 – $25
Event Categories:


Desert Dance Theatre
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Tempe Center for the Arts – Theater
700 W. Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, AZ 85281 United States
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