Outdoor dance concert to dazzle stages across Iowa

Ballet Des Moines and Hancher Auditorium have come together to bring a live dance performance for audiences to enjoy safely outdoors.


Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

In a time where in-person performances have been limited, Ballet Des Moines and Hancher Auditorium are partnering for a one-of-a-kind collaboration to host Dance Into Spring, an outdoor dance concert.

The idea originated on a Zoom call. Executive Directors Chuck Swanson of Hancher Auditorium and Blaire Massa of Ballet Des Moines had both been on the call when Massa mentioned that she was trying to find a way for her performers to safely dance in front of a live audience. She said her dancers have not performed live since December 2019.

Swanson ran with the vision and started finding locations across the state of Iowa that could help bring the community together.

“The theme of the show is the spirit of renewal, reviving the arts after being shut down for so long,” Swanson said. “Our Iowa community needs to be united back together to enjoy art and that is a huge reason why Hancher leaped at the opportunity to be a part of this event.”

Since the production is a state-wide collaboration, the show will be on the road for a weekend for multiple audiences to enjoy. On Friday at 7:30 p.m., the show will perform at the Lauridsen Amphitheater in Des Moines. Iowa City patrons can watch the show on May 1 at the Hancher Green outside of Hancher Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.. The final stop for the show’s tour is on May 2, at 5:30 p.m. at Riverside Park in Muscatine.

The performance will feature five choreographed pieces performed by a diverse array of dancers, all with Iowa connections. Performers include professional members of Ballet Des Moines, dancers from the University of Iowa’s Dance Company, and a duo from the Miami City Ballet, one of whom was a former dancer for Ballet Des Moines. Live musicians from the Roseman String Quartet and members of the Des Moines Symphony will also accompany Ballet Des Moines.

Ballet Des Moines has six professional dancers performing in two pieces. During their practice season, the dancers limited their interactions with larger groups of people and other individuals to safely dance with each other, Massa said. Plus, all are vaccinated.

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Each one of their dances take inspirations from ballet and contemporary dance styles, Massa added.

“The dances we are presenting are super uplifting and joyful,” Massa said. “Dance has a special ability to transcend audiences to a new world, and that is our main hope for this performance.”

The UI Dance Company consists of 12 undergraduates and one graduate student. They are all enrolled in the same course, which aims to give them as many performance opportunities as possible. UI Dance Company Associate Director Alex Bush choreographed a piece to the music of the Hawkeye Marching Band.

“They are truly a phenomenal group to work with and they simply run with my ideas,” Bush said. “I am super happy that they are getting this professional performance opportunity.”

All performances of Dance Into Spring are free for patrons to attend and are advised to bring their own chairs and blankets for viewing. Social distancing and masks will be required at each outdoor performance. Both Hancher Auditorium and Ballet Des Moines want to follow alongside all COVID-19 guidelines as stated in a press release.

“We could not be more excited to bring this performance to our community,” Swanson said. “It will be one not to miss.”