Writer Shannon Severson // Photo by Tim Fuller and Robert Hacman Photography
Music, movement, fashion and history will merge to create an exhilarating, world premiere performance of Ballet Arizona’s “Juan Gabriel” May 5–8 at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.
Not everyone may be familiar with who Juan Gabriel was, but Ballet Arizona’s acclaimed artistic director, Ib Andersen, masterfully introduces him in this balletic tribute to Gabriel and his legendary 1990 performance at Mexico’s Palacio de Belles Artes — which was recorded for a live album, “Juan Gabriel en el Palacio de Belles Artes.”
Andersen is known for his exquisite choreography and attention to detail. “Juan Gabriel” is no exception. Mexico City-based fashion designer and fashion house, Carla Fernández, was tapped to design show-stopping costumes. Fernández is known for her designs that honor Mexico’s indigenous and mestizo communities. Her sustainably-produced, handmade designs are created with cultural accuracy and are literally woven together with looms, carefully embroidered and even hand-painted with timeless precision.
Juan Gabriel was Mexico’s premier pop icon before his untimely death at age 66 in 2016. His over-the-top performance style and poetic lyrics made his career a smashing success. His songs range from mournful ballads to joyous, toe-tapping tunes that make you want to get on your feet and dance.
Over his lifetime, Gabriel wrote more than 1,800 songs and sold 20 million albums, including Mexico’s best-selling album of all time, “Recuerdos, Vol. II.” Gabriel was also known for his charitable work, particularly to benefit children’s homes. Billboard Magazine named Gabriel as one of the 30 most influential Latino artists in history and, among other honors, he was posthumously inducted into the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2016.
Audiences will enjoy this feast for the eyes, ears and soul as the passion and pageantry of Gabriel’s music unfolds in balletic artistry on stage. It’s a performance that needs no translation.
“Juan Gabriel” is produced by Ballet Arizona board members and philanthropists, Jacquie and Bennett Dorrance, along with SRP and Friends of Mexican Art. Opening night is sponsored by F. Francis and Dionne Najafi of Pivotal Foundation.
Ballet Arizona’s “Juan Gabriel” // May 5–8 // See website for times // Symphony Hall // 75 N. Second St., Phoenix // $35+; discounts available for students, seniors, military and groups // 602-381-1096 // balletaz.org