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"Round Reimagined" at the Desert Botanical Garden, May 2022

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Ib Andersen's Round was originally performed in May of 2016 on a 38 ft. diameter circular stage. The audience was symmetrically seated on all four sides, with four ramps leading onto the stage for dancer access. This was certainly a serious choreographic undertaking – to put together a ballet that is interesting regardless of the angle from which it was seen.


This time, in May 2022, the ballet has been renamed to Round: Reimagined for a New Stage, which presumably means ‘restaged for a more conventional (i.e. not round) stage’. No doubt there was a lot of extra expense driven by the round format, such as four sets of lighting towers, four sets of grandstands, complex stage and ramp layout, etc.

Since there’s not much info available about this show (Juan Gabriel seems to absorbing all available energy), I’ll just pass along some thoughts and info about the original in-the-round Round. I’m guessing that the changes will primarily be in re-staging.

  • Music:
    • Thomas Ades - Three Studies After Couperin: Les Amusemens

    • Thomas Ades - Three Studies After Couperin: Les Tours de Passe-Passe

    • Claude Debussy – Syrinx

    • Claude Debussy – Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun

    • J.S. Bach – Suite No. 4 in E-flat, BWV1010: Sarabande

    • Maurice Ravel – Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2

  • One section, to Thomas Ades light-hearted Les Tours de Passe-Passe, featured eight ballerinas around the periphery of the stage, in a delicate music-box-like sequence - perfect for the circular stage.

  • For a more enlightened description of the various parts of the ballet, see Alistair Macaulay’s review: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/04/arts/dance/review-arizona-ballet-performs-round-in-a-dreamy-desert-ambience.html?searchResultPosition=1

  • For a 5 minute clip of the Daphnis et Chl section, see this topic:

Round: Reimagined for a New Stage will run for the latter half of May, 2022, at the Desert Botanical Garden:




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About this post

This post regarding Round is for those who, like myself, get more out of a ballet if they are at least somewhat aware of the inspirations behind it. In this case, if Greek mythology is second nature to you, or if you aren’t particularly interested in understanding what background might have influenced the choreography, then read no further. Should you be mythologically challenged, as I am, continue on…

The Issue at Hand

Back in 2016, the scant background in the program didn’t provide much to go on:

  • Round has “themes that explore man’s connection to nature”.
  • The list of music (listed above)

That's it. And you had to arrive at the venue and dig through the program to even find the list of music - it wasn't available anywhere else. It wasn't then, and it isn't now.

For some of the music, such as that of Thomas Ades, there weren’t (to me) any obvious references, and I assumed the choreography was simply abstract and inspired by the music, and I’m AOK with that. However, there were two pieces of music that had clear reference to Greek mythology, namely Debussy’s Syrinx and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. If you came to the show with little or no awareness of either of these, then, perhaps you were missing out to some extent. My impression following the 2016 show was that many folks were a bit befuddled by it. To my way of thinking, at least a cursory familiarity with the mythology might help one identify characters and/or events. So, I can’t understand why BAZ didn't put at least some minimal description of these mythological references into the program – for those audience members who might be interested.

The Background Information

So, here’s the info that I dug up, and will hopefully inform my viewing this time around (no pun intended). Note that this isn’t about choreography or interpretation; it simply provides an inkling of what the composer/choreographer would have started with.

Daphnis et Chloé, Suite #2 (Ravel)
The first two scenes portray the courtship of Daphnis and Chloé, and the latter's abduction by, and miraculous escape from, a band of pirates. The third scene (Ravel’s Suite # 2) takes place in a grove sacred to the god Pan and begins with daybreak following the pirate's night of terror. The movements are entitled Daybreak, Pantomime, and Bacchanale:

Morning at the grotto of the Nymphs. There is no sound but the murmur of rivulets produced by the dew that trickles from the rocks. Daphnis lies, still unconscious, at the entrance of the grotto. Gradually the day breaks. The songs of birds are heard. Far off, a shepherd passes with his flock. Another shepherd crosses in the background. A group of herdsmen enters looking for Daphnis and Chloé. They discover Daphnis and wake him. Anxiously he looks around for Chloé. She appears at last, surrounded by shepherdesses. They throw themselves into each other’s arms. Daphnis notices Chloé’s wreath. His dream was a prophetic vision. The intervention of Pan is manifest. The old shepherd Lammon explains that, if Pan has saved Chloé, it is in memory of the nymph Syrinx, whom the god once loved. Daphnis and Chloé mime the tale of Pan and Syrinx. Chloé plays the young nymph wandering in the meadow. Daphnis as Pan appears and declares his love. The nymph rebuffs him. The god becomes more insistent. She disappears into the reeds. In despair, he picks several stalks to form a flute and plays a melancholy air. Chloé reappears and interprets through her dance the accents of his flute. The dance becomes more and more animated, and in a mad whirling, Chloé falls into Daphnis’s arms. Before the altar of the Nymphs, he pledges his love, offering a sacrifice of two sheep. A group of girls enters dressed as bacchantes, shaking tambourines. Daphnis and Chloé embrace tenderly. A group of youths rushes on stage and the ballet ends with a bacchanale. - Wikipedia

Syrinx (Debussy)

Syrinx is a short (3 minute) piece for flute. It refers to the myth of the amorous pursuit of the nymph Syrinx by the god Pan, in which Pan falls in love with Syrinx, however, as Syrinx does not return the love to Pan, she turns herself into a water reed and hides in the marshes. Pan cuts the reeds to make his pipes, in turn killing his love.


Now, I’m certain that Mr. Andersen was NOT choreographing the story of Daphnis et Chloé, per se. (A review of the five minute video in the adjacent post makes that clear.) But he was, I suspect, inspired by the music and the story. So, armed at least with the information above I’ll be able to watch it a little bit more knowledgeably.

P.S. In trying to wrap my head around  the ballet as a whole , I watched the Ashton version with Alina Cojocaru and Federco Bonelli, circa 2004. (You can find it on YoutTube, cut up onto several pieces.) It stuck pretty closely to the story as listed on Wikipedia, and it was fascinating to see how the familiar pieces of Ravel’s superb score were mirrored in Ashton’s choreography… Whew! This ballet stuff is hard work!

P.P.S. I was mortified to find that the seductive Lyceion was danced by my favorite Royal Ballet dancer – it's amazing what a curly blond wig will do! I had no clue!!

Edited by fiddleback
Typo, line spacing
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First and foremost, BAZ has announced:

Please note: Due to a COVID-19 outbreak among our Dancers, Round: Reimagined For A New Stage performances for this week are canceled. If you have a ticket for a performance during the week of Wednesday, May 18 – Saturday, May 21, you may receive a full refund. Please fill out our refund form for the quickest way to receive your refund.

To exchange your tickets for another evening’s performance, fill out our form or call our Box Office at 602-381-1096. Please be patient with longer than normal wait times or leave a voicemail for us to return your call at our earliest opportunity.

On to notes from Opening Night:

Round: Reimagined for a New Stage has premiered, this time on a more familiar rectangular stage, as expected. However, the last two pieces (the Bach Suite and Daphnis et Chloe) have been replaced with portions of Mr. Andersen’s plotless Mosaik from 2007. Here’s the lineup:


  • Thomas Ades - Three Studies After Couperin: Les Amusemens
  • Thomas Ades - Three Studies After Couperin: Les Tours de Passe-Passe
  • Claude Debussy – Syrinx
  • Claude Debussy – Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun

And, added from Mosaik:

  • Franz Schubert – Trio No. 2, Op. 100 - Andante con moto
  • Peter Ilyich Tchiakovsky – Symphony No. 6 in B minor – Allegro molto vivace

The Schubert piece is an almost 10 minute pas de deux – sensitive and pretty reserved, but with some intense crescendos. It’s definitely worth listening to before you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nioKJNp8ADE. The Tchiakovsky piece is a rousing all-hands-on-deck, with groups sweeping on and off the stage, and forces fully massed for the finale. Seems very Balanchinesque.

A few thoughts on the changes to the new ‘reimagined’ Round:

  • The most obvious difference is that the new Round uses the natural desert landscape as a background. Patterns are projected onto trees and saguaros behind the stage, and, even more majestically, onto the nearby sculptured Papago Buttes. And, if there happens to be a breeze, the patterns on the trees provide a lovely shimmering effect. Originally, with in-the-round seating, the diametrically opposed audience – tables and bleachers – comprised the ‘background’ – at best little noticed, while at worst a distraction.
  • Advertising for Round Reimagined… almost ubiquitously shows the skimpy silvery costumes (shown above) and/or clips from Daphnis et Chloe from the original Round. You won’t experience either in the new version.
  • One thing that may not have changed at all is Les Tours de Passe-Passe – still a favorite. All of the movements are very circular, and I suspect that the choreography is literally unchanged from the original in-the-round version; and it still works well. As a side note, it’s interesting to note that the original Couperin runs about 1 minute, whereas the Ades version runs about 4 minutes – ¼ of the original tempo! If you’re going (or have been) to Round, you might enjoy listening to the original on guitar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydrbHVfnNCk.

Round runs through June 2, 2022 at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Edited by fiddleback
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