From Celtic dance to chorus line

Students from the Celtic Dance Academy, which performs An Irish Nutcracker this weekend

My husband, James, was surprised to find me watching a performance of San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker” on PBS Sunday evening with the sound barely audible.

“What,” he asked, “you have all the music memorized?” Well, yes. Pretty much.

I’ve spent many a December stage mothering young performers in the Ballet Arizona production at Symphony Hall in Phoenix — where every note is another cue.

Time to help three children adjust their mouse heads. Adhere bright red circle stickers to cheeks of toy soldiers. Add wings and halos to dancers donning flowing angel gowns.

The performers and volunteers don’t see the production taking place. They experience only the music, exquisitely attuned to each new measure.

So I was delighted to learn of “An Irish Nutcracker,” being performed by the Celtic Dance Academy Sat, Dec 18, at the Mesa Arts Center — at both 3pm and 7:30pm.

It pairs the classic Nutcracker story with a journey through the “the land of Tir Na Nog where fairies, flowers and gypsies dance to Irish tunes.” So now I can enjoy seeing both the traditional ballet as well as a charming Celtic interpretation.

An Irish Nutcracker is one of several holiday dance performances you can enjoy in the Valley

Many of the Valley’s holiday dance traditions are covered in earlier “Stage Mom” posts — but I’m pleased to share another couple of dance events taking place this weekend at Mesa Arts Center.

Campbell’s Dance Studio presents “The Night Before Christmas” Sat, Dec 18, at 4pm. It’s the story of a family who’ve no presents on Christmas Eve — but discover instead that they know the true meaning of Christmas.

AZ Desert Dance presents “The Night Before Christmas” — featuring “a trip through your favorite mall” — Sat, Dec 18, at 7pm.

Those of you reading the fine print may suspect I’ve erred given overlapping times for events at the same venue. But never fear — because the MAC is home to several performing arts venues (and visual arts spaces), there’s often more than a single event taking place at any given time. Nifty.

There’s also plenty of classic dance on the Valley horizon once this holiday season has come and gone.

A Chorus Line” comes to the Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix Jan 13-16, 2011. The tour also stops at the Mesa Arts Center Jan 11-12.

Broadway buffs don’t need the breakdown, but those not familiar with the show should know that it’s the tale of 17 dancers auditioning for a musical — something they’ve dreamed of, and worked for, most of their lives.

A Chorus Line comes to two Valley venues during January 2011

“Lord of the Dance” comes to the Orpheum Theater Jan 28-29, 2011. Michael Flatley originated the “Lord” role and now serves as artistic director of the production — which couples traditional and modern forms of dance. Think fast, fancy footwork and spirited tunes.

Stay tuned for word of more dance delights coming to the Valley — and drop a line if your child’s school, dance studio or community group is presenting a dance performance that you’d like to share with our readers.

The best dancers are those we call daughter, sister, brother or son — mother, father, teacher or friend.

— Lynn

Coming up: “A Night at the Museum” and other galas to benefit the arts