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Fall Arts Preview: Dance 

A season highlighted by Balanchine, Cuban imports and and the Biblical story of Judith

click to enlarge Jenna Johnson as Christine Daaé and Daniel Precup as The Phantom in Ballet Tucson’s Phantom of the Opera.

Photo by Ed Flores

Jenna Johnson as Christine Daaé and Daniel Precup as The Phantom in Ballet Tucson’s Phantom of the Opera.

Balanchine choreography gets a rare Tucson outing, Oct. 6-8, when Ballet Tucson performs the neoclassical master's Walpurgisnacht Ballet. The 1975 piece, about a night when witches dance and the dead walk, stars no fewer than 24 female dancers. The pro troupe's spooky fall opening concert also reprises Phantom of the Opera, choreographed by the company's Mary Beth Cabana, Chieko Imada and Daniel Precup. The dancers also tackle classical ballet, in Paquita—Grand Pas Classique, an 1881 ballet staple of ballet by Petipa and Minkus, inflected with Spanish dance. Stevie Eller Dance Theatre.

The troupe's dancers turn dancemakers in Footprints at the Fox, showing off new works—performed by their dancing pals—at Fox Tucson Theater Nov. 18. Come Christmas, the ballet's entire troupe will be back on stage, at Tucson Music Hall, to dance the company's traditional Victorian Nutcracker, complete with falling snow and velvet costumes. Dec. 22-24. Ballettucson.org

Artifact Dance Project, a local contemporary company, specializes in narrative dance accompanied by live music. This season, the troupe takes on the Biblical story of Judith, a daring woman who saved ancient Israel by slaying an enemy general. Ilaria Guerra dances the title role, and mezzo-soprano Korby Myrick, percussionist Paul Gibson and pianist Richard Hereld perform the music. Oct. 12, 13 and 15 at Stevie Eller. (No performance Oct. 14). Artifact goes to its warehouse studio downtown for Downtown, an aptly named concert evoking 1940s New York. Singer Rebecca Carlson and musician/composer Chris Black complement the dances with renditions of iconic American jazz songs. Artifactdanceproject.org.

UA presents imports just one dance troupe this fall, Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, in a one-night only performance of ¡Cuba Vibra! at Centennial Hall Nov. 21. The 25-year-old fusion troupe, known for dance styles from mambo to rumba, regularly travels the world, turning every concert into "a hot night in Havana," as the New York Times puts it. Uapresents.org.

The students of the UA Dance Ensemble strut the stage early in the semester, in JAZZ in AZ, a "one-act, one-hour" show, Sept. 26-28. The highlight of the next concert, Premium Blend, Nov. 15-19, is Ravel's "Bolero," choreographed by superstar Alexei Ratmansky, formerly of the Bolshoi, now resident choreographer for American Ballet Theatre. Co-sponsored by UApresents, the concert also showcases a Bella Lewitzky modern piece and new works by UA faculty. In the Moment–Student Spotlight, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, closes the semester with dances by students, both undergrad and grad. All shows at Stevie Eller, arizona.edu.

ZUZI! Dance Company, operating out of the Historic YW, does its part for local dance by hosting any and all choreographers, seasoned and aspiring, twice a year in No Frills Dance Happenin' concerts. This fall's No Frills is Nov. 3-4. The annual Solstice show provides an alternative to the year-end flood of Nutcrackers; this year's edition, Woven, will be Dec. 15-17, and Dec. 20. Zuzimoveit.org.

And speaking of The Nutcracker, Tucson Regional Ballet collaborates with Tucson Symphony Orchestra on A Southwest Nutcracker at the Tucson Music Hall Dec. 9-10. A local favorite, the production switches the usual Old World locale to Tucson in the 1880s, complete with coyotes and rattlesnakes. tucsonregionalballet.org

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