Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Raising the Barre

Ib Andersen, ballet arizonaArtistic Director Ib Andersen took Ballet Arizona from the brink of bankruptcy to iconic institution.

“I wish more people in Phoenix knew about us,” Ib Andersen says with a wry smile.

A lot of people outside Phoenix know about Ballet Arizona, the company Andersen directs. Critics fly in from New York to see it in action. Dancers from around the world audition to be in its ranks. Yet Ballet Arizona may be the city’s – and the state’s – best-kept performing arts secret.

 

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Middle Man

PHM0814Flash-1-2Scott Smith brings a centrist platform to a packed Republican primary for governor.

Scott Smith, the former mayor of Mesa, wants you to think about his city – both your impression of it years ago, and its recent spate of positive press. The five private, nonprofit legacy colleges and universities that set up shop. The much-applauded Apple Inc. manufacturing plant. The new spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs. The rapid growth of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The falling crime rates that have made Mesa one of the safest big cities in America.

 

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Wheels of Fortune

PHM0714Flash-1-2Ms. Wheelchair Arizona advocates for the mobility-impaired.

Juliet Martinez has yet to encounter an obstacle she can’t overcome – and she isn’t about to let this gymnasium rock wall in Scottsdale be the first. She locks the wheels of her chair, secures herself into a harness and – with a little helpful butt-boost from a climbing guide – begins the vertical ascent. Her powerful biceps tighten as she crawls her way up the craggy surface. Sweat beads on her face, exposing a dark birthmark normally covered by makeup.

 

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Bard of the Border

PHM0614Flash-1-1Arizona’s first poet laureate balances cultures and finds connections among dividing lines.

Alberto Álvaro Rios stood before a small gathering of South Phoenicians at South Mountain Community Library, preparing to read a poem they wrote together. To honor its one-year anniversary in 2012, the library had asked locals to submit phrases, images and memories about South Phoenix – to contribute a verse, Walt Whitman might say, to the powerful play. As Rios had sewed the snatches together, the emerging ode surprised him. It wasn’t patched with the area’s history of segregation and violence. “‘Baseline Blooms,’” he says, “turned out to be a pastoral, gentle, quiet poem. And this was the community writing itself.”

 

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¶lim¶Citizen Fred

PHMFRED01aHe’s never held elected office, but could well be Arizona’s next governor. Who is Fred DuVal?

In the foyer of Fred DuVal’s home, there’s a framed photo and piece of paper with names scrawled on it. From a passing glance, it could be a family heirloom – a well-preserved photo of spiffy, suit-clad ancestors in front of a big building, with their handwritten notes beneath. A closer look, though, reveals a scene of international magnitude: The photo was taken outside the White House on September 13, 1993, at the signing ceremony of the Oslo I Accord. President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a host of highly-placed officials are gathered around the table where representatives signed the peace accord. The paper underneath the photo bears their signatures. DuVal was there that day and, in fact, led the procession of political powerhouses out onto the lawn.

 

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Cool for Spool

PHM0514Flash-1World yo-yo champion Tyler Severance has the world on a string.

“Yo-yo groupies do exist,” Tyler Severance says. “But there are groupies for every facet of skill in the world. If you can set yourself apart from the pack and have any sort of small talent or skill, it will definitely attract women.”

“Being good at yo-yo isn’t an instant hookup, though,” he adds with a laugh.

Severance should know. The 22-year-old Valley resident is one of the world’s foremost competitive yo-yoists, currently ranked number 2 in both U.S. and global yo-yo standings. His talent has taken him everywhere from Denver to Prague, where the next World Yo-Yo Contest, in which he plans to participate, is slated for August. During his rise, he’s slept on the subway in Tokyo, been robbed in Budapest, and performed for exotic dancers in Vegas.

 

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Executive Incision

PHM0414 Slideshow PFPeopleFormer White House head physician Connie Mariano provides presidential care to Valley patients.

Last year, when CNN asked Dr. Connie Mariano for a quote about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie eating a doughnut on the Late Show with David Letterman, the Scottsdale-based physician – after carefully stipulating she had never reviewed Christie’s medical records – said she’d be “very worried about him dying in office”  if she were his presidential physician, adding that the portly politico was “almost like a time bomb waiting to happen.” True to form, Christie went off like a bomb, calling Mariano “just another hack who wants five minutes on TV.” Undaunted, Mariano defended herself and her remarks. “I’m not a hack,” she told Bloomberg. “If you look up my resume, I’ve been in the White House for nine years. I’m a retired Navy rear admiral. I’m board-certified in internal medicine.”

 

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