Arts center features classic tale in ‘Yellow Brick Road’ - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Arts center features classic tale in ‘Yellow Brick Road’

June 21st, 2018 development
Arts center features classic tale in ‘Yellow Brick Road’

By Colleen Sparks,  Managing Editor


The story of a girl who left Kansas, encountered a Tin Man, Scarecrow, Munchkins and other magical creatures before professing there’s no place is like home will be brought to life in the form of dances at Chandler Center for the Arts.

Wagner Dance Arts’ “Yellow Brick Road” will come to the stage on June 23 at the arts center, 250 N. Arizona Ave.

About 170 dancers who take classes at the Mesa studio will perform ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and contemporary dances in a tale inspired by “The Wizard of Oz,” said Wagner Dance Arts artistic director and co-owner Denise Wagner.

Many dancers who live in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Ahwatukee take classes at the dance studio.

“It has a lot of themes of home and how great it is to be home and friendship,” Wagner said. “It’s about Dorothy and she encounters the scarecrow and the lion and the Tin Man. It’s a family-friendly dance production.

“It’s a great story for kids because it teaches them the importance of home and home is in your heart. This show is for a lot of families of our students. A lot of the moms and grandmothers, they love the show. For the youth of today that haven’t seen the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ it’s a way to introduce it.”

The dance production will not actually feature a witch but alludes to one so as not to scare the young viewers and dancers.

Wagner and about 10 choreographers collaborated to create the dances for the show. Many songs used in the “Wizard of Oz” will be played as background to the dances, but also music from the musical “Wicked.”

All dancers who study at Wagner Dance Arts will participate in the show, but they auditioned for specific parts, Wagner said.

“I love the story,” she said. “It’s a timeless classic.”

The dance school gets costumes from many different sources and Betty Aquino, the wardrobe mistress, aims to make “every child feel fabulous,” Wagner said. Aquino’s granddaughter had danced at Wagner Dance Arts.

Wagner’s daughter, Ruby Wagner, teaches at the studio and does much of the choreography for shows. Wagner is a Mesa Community College student and Highland High School graduate.

“It’s passing down through the generations,” Wagner said.

Wagner, whose husband, Charles, is the studio’s co-owner, said her dance studio focuses on a “quality performing arts education and the development of self-esteem for all students.

“Our shows are appropriate; our music, costumes are age-appropriate,” she said. “It’s an uplifting experience for families.”

Wagner started dancing when she was 6, doing mostly ballet and some jazz and tap. She studied dance in Costa Rica and taught ballet and jazz while she was a graduate student at Arizona State University.

Wagner has owned the dance studio for about 16 years.

“Yellow Brick Road” will be performed at 6 p.m. June 23 at the Chandler Center for the Arts. For tickets and more information, visit