Scorpius

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A Phoenix dance company is gaining international attention for its unique style. Last month, Scorpius Dance Theatre became the first Arizona Company invited to the Booking Dance Festival, part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is considered the largest arts festival in the world. We’ll take a look at the unique style of Scorpius.

Ted Simons: Last month Scorpius Dance Theatre became the first Arizona company invited to the Booking Dance Festival, part of the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Steven Snow introduce us to the Scorpius Dance Theatre.

Lisa Starry: A little bit more closer to each other. I felt were you separated.

Lisa Starry: I'm the director and choreographer and founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, it's my baby.

Christina Estes: Lisa Starry's baby was born in 1999.

Lisa Starry: I was focusing on my teaching career, and it was really hard to go to rehearsals. I just felt like really I needed to do my own work. So I gathered a bunch of friends and said, "Do you want to start this company?" And they all said yes. And that's how we started.

Christina Estes: What they started was pretty unusual. Performances packed with beauty, emotion, and diversity.

Gavin Sisson: We have such a wide array of technical dancers. Hip hop, ballet, contemporary, acrobatic. I love having all of those art forms combined into one dance company or dance theatre.

Christina Estes: Gavin Sisson took his aerial artistry to Scotland. "Water Dreams" was one of two Scorpius performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Gavin Sisson: It's amazing. You get to fly. You totally are suspended off the ground, just by wrapping yourself up in this piece of fabric and floating around and being twirled in the air, and then taking a risk and taking that breath and falling all the way down.

Lisa Starry: There was a review from "The Scotsman" which is a huge newspaper there, it's like "The New York Times" in New York City. And both my pieces were mentioned in there. And that was the icing on the cake.

Christina Estes: Starry says the exposure can lead to teaching opportunities and tours, like their first big paid gig coming up in Helena, Montana.

Lisa Starry: They're paying us a nice lump sum, and I have to budget that because you have to pay for airfare, and then the rest of the money will go to performers, your crew, and food stipend and stuff like that. So it's exciting.

Christina Estes: They'll perform "A Vampire Tale." After 10 years in Phoenix, Starry says it's become a cult classic.

Lisa Starry: We've marketed and called it like "The Nutcracker" of Halloween.

Christina Estes: It's about a young woman who falls into a clan of vampires, and then falls for the king, which angers the queen. Assistant director Nicole Olson is the queen.

Nicole Olson: It's my favorite place to be. It's the best high, to be on stage in front of people.

Christina Estes: It's not just different styles that set Scorpius apart.

Lisa Starry: We can do one to two to three-week runs, which is really rare for a dance company, because most dance companies will work for six months on a piece and perform one night at a large theatre, and that's it. If you come you come, if you didn't, you missed out. So we have been able to develop a really big and diverse audience because we perform longer throughout the year.

Gavin Sisson: We want Joe Schmo off the sidewalk to come in and take something away from our show, whether it be the athleticism, the subtle movement, the amazing lights, the amazing music. We want anybody to take away anything. One thing, at least, from one of our shows.

Nicole Olson: Lisa believes that you should have an audience leave saying, I wish could I have seen more minutes of that, instead of saying, I wish that would have ended minutes ago.

Christina Estes: Starry's baby is celebrating its 14th year, a challenging time for any parent.

Lisa Starry: It seems like it's been a long time, a lot of sacrifices, a lot of financial sacrifices.

Christina Estes: But Starry says the payoff comes with every performance.

Lisa Starry: Seeing all these people come and smile, or cry, and clap really loud is -- That just makes my day.

Ted Simons: Scorpius will present "A Vampire Tale" in mid-October at the Phoenix Little Theater before moving on to performances in Montana.

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