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500-Mile Dance Exchange Journey

CassieMeadorStarting April 10th 2012, Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador will embark on a 500-mile walk, launching a new initiative in art and environmentalism. This particular quest will allow Meador to explore various energy sources channeling through her home in Takoma neighborhood of Washington, DC to the east coast of West Virginia and Maryland.

With the help of the creative team in Dance Exchange, it will take approximately two months to finish the journey; it will not only be ecology-based but a physically monitored trip. Joining Meador will be Matt Mahaney, a long-distance hiker, videographer and adjunct artist of the Dance Exchange.

Together, along with the crew, various artists, naturalists, environmentalists, documentarians and partners, will delve into the true assets of the environment such as energy plants, including wind, coal, and waste resource recovery facilities.

The purpose of this project is to promote a community engagement tour in unison with the development of a dance production, How To Lose A Mountain premiering in Spring 2013. It will illustrate how one can unite with nature and save the earth by coming to understand the very essence of such natural resources that one uses and possibly take granted for in his/her daily life. This voyage, being a physical one, may help one comprehend the necessary means of fusing art and science creating a whole, new different approach to the world, humanity and to one’s everyday surroundings.

The 500-mile walk will be carefully documented on the website: allowing viewers to experience for themselves and share with others about their travel stories.

DSC 0048-300x199On April 10, the day the walk begins, Dance Exchange will perform and host an interactive story collection workshop at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Dance Exchange-led programming will occur at additional university campuses and community centers along the walk route.

This programming includes: a story collection workshop, called 500 Miles/500 Stories, that will encourage participants to reflect on the distances in their lives; and a series of Moving Field Guides, outdoor movement workshops where participants will learn the value of their local ecosystems through walking and dance.

Major support for the Moving Field Guides comes from the U.S. Forest Service. Additional support and partnerships for the walk include the National Endowment for the Arts, the MetLife Foundation, Maryland State Arts Council, and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Girl Scouts of America, Glen Echo Park, the McGuffey Arts Center, James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Workspace for Choreographers, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, the FLOC Outdoors Education Center and the Claytor Nature Study Center.

The stage work, How To Lose a Mountain is a National Performance Network Creation Fund grantee and a co-commission of Dance Place in DC and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan Wisconsin. In partnership with USA Projects, Dance Exchange has launched a fundraising campaign to reach $10,000 by June 22.

For more on this campaign, visit

About Cassie Meador

Cassie Meador is a choreographer, performer, educator and Artistic Director of the Dance Exchange. In recent years, Cassie’s choreographic investigations have tackled numerous social and environmentalissues through the synthesis of movement, sound, and striking visual images. Drift, her 2008 work commissioned by the Kennedy Center and recognized with a Metro DC Dance Award, explores the human relationship to land over time. Her current choreographic project, How To Lose a Mountain, will incorporate a 500-mile walk from Washington, D.C. to West Virginia to trace the sources of the energy that fuel her home.

Her Moving Field Guides, an interactive experience led by artists, naturalists and regional experts in ecology, is being implemented in partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Born in Charleston, SC, and raised in Augusta, GA, Cassie received her B.F.A. indance from The Ohio State University. She joined Dance Exchange in 2002 andassumed the role of Artistic Director in 2011.

About Dance Exchange

Dance Exchange breaks boundaries between stage and audience, theater and community, movement and language, tradition and the unexplored. Founded in 1976 by Liz Lerman and now under the artistic direction of Cassie Meador, Dance Exchange stretches the expressive range of contemporary dance through explosive dancing, personal stories, humor, and a company of performers whose ages span six decades. The work consists of formal concerts, interactive performances, specialized community residencies, and professional training in the art of community-based dance.

An artist-driven organization, Dance Exchange employs a collaborative approach to dance making, administration, and implementation. Representing the multiple artistic voices of Dance Exchange, recent and current choreographic projects include explorations of coal mining, genetic research, radical prayer, human rights, particle physics, geology, and rest in a hyper-driven society.

For more information please visit: or

Arizona is Spa Central

mii amo01

Maybe it’s escapism or a coping method, but despite the pummeling from the recession, many Americans are still flocking to spas for therapeutic pummeling.

The International SPA Association (ISPA) commissions PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to conduct their annual ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study –- focusing on five key statistics:

  • revenue
  • spa visits
  • the number of spa locations
  • total employment in the industry
  • square footage

Since the first commissioned study in 2000, the spa industry has continued to flourish despite the economic downturn.

From only 5,700 spa locations in 1999, that number has increased to 20,600 in 2009. Spa visits have increased from 90.7 million vs 143 million for the same period, while revenue has increased from $5 billion in 1999 to $12.3 billion. Employment within this industry has also increased in conjunction from 151,000 total employees in 1999 to 332,000 in May 2010.

The state of Arizona has been a huge contributor to these statistics. Arizona is a spa lover’s paradise, with a wide range of services and treatments at their day and overnight resort spas. The greater Phoenix area is home to many of these famous spas and it’s not hard to see why.

With an average of 310 sunny days per year, an annual rainfall of 7.66 inches, an average annual temperature of 72.6 degrees and an annual high temperature of 85 degrees, this is year-round paradise.

Several award-winning Arizona hotels with top-flight spa experiences include: 

  • The Four Seasons
  • The Arizona Biltmore
  • Montelucia
  • Sheraton Phoenix Downtown
  • Wigwam Resort
  • Sedona's The Enchantment Resort 

Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North 4seasonspa resize
Just 45 minutes from the city center, the resort is set high in the Sonoran Desert, in the cooling foothills of Pinnacle Peak. Situated among cacti, rocks and small mountains, it’s back to nature – Four Seasons style. The 25 Southwestern-style adobe casitas encompasses 210 guest rooms, including 22 suites.

The Arizona Biltmore
The award-winning Biltmore, part of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, is one of Phoenix’s first resorts and is known for its signature design. Built in 1929, the Biltmore was constructed in grand form by brothers Albert, Charles and Warren McArthur with Frank Lloyd Wright serving as the consulting architect. It was Wright’s first hotel project and remains the only existing hotel in the world with a Wright design.This landmark “Jewel of the Desert” has been the place to stay for U.S. presidents and the playground for the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

A full-service 22,000-square-foot resort spa, salon and fitness center. The spa includes an extensive menu of treatments and therapies from countries and cultures worldwide, using only natural elements and ingredients with 17 indoor treatment rooms. The adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club boasts two 18-hole PGA golf courses -- The Links and The Adobe. It has 740 guest accommodations, 78 one-and two-bedroom villas, eight swimming pools, seven tennis courts and five dining options.

Montelucia Resort & Spa

The Montelucia Resort & Spa is a top-rated luxury hotel, inspired by the rich history, culture and architecture of Spain’s Andalusia region. Nestled at the foot of picturesque Camelback Mountain, this extraordinary getaway offers an array of facilities, including the critically-acclaimed Prado restaurant and spa treatments at the award-winning Joya Spa.

The property features 293 guest rooms as well as 34 multi-million dollar privately-owned villas on 35 acres of lush desert landscape. In May 2011, The Montelucia Resort was added to the KSL Resorts portfolio which includes La Costa Resort & Spa, Hotel del Coronado, Beach Village at the Del, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa, and The Homestead.

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel
This newly designed and contemporary hotel offers tasteful design and panoramic views. The 1.1 million square foot, 31-floor Sheraton Phoenix Downtown is Arizona’s largest hotel, as well as the tallest hotel tower in Phoenix. Its facilities include 1,000 smoke-free guest rooms and suites; 80,000 square feet of flexible, state-of-the-art meeting space (with a 29,000-square-foot grand ballroom and 17 meeting rooms); a 6,500-square-foot state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness Center; and a 2,000-square-foot outdoor pool and sundeck.

The exterior color palette of browns, oranges and yellows were chosen to represent the desert sky at sunset. The curved roofline mimics the slope of nearby Camelback Mountain. Set in the heart of the city, it is minutes away from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and adjacent to the convention center. 

The Wigwam Resort
This Arizona landmark and Historic Hotel of America couples historic charm with a truly modern sense of adventure. Originally built in 1918, The Wigwam ushers in a whole new era of relaxation. In addition to the 331 casitas and suites, (including 70 luxurious suites and two presidential suites), the Wigwam Resort offers many amenities including a 9,300-square-foot outdoor plaza featuring new dining options, indoor/outdoor bar, lounge areas and entertainment venues. 

For the golf-enthusiasts, this is the spot to go to and practice your swing. On-site are world class golf school facilities and 54 holes of championship golf, including two of the state's four courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. led by The Golf Course, one of Arizona's majestic courses. The only resort with guest access to five golf courses, including the Arizona Biltmore Country Club, it has a championship tennis facility, and fitness cnnter. With over 43,000 square feet of sophisticated indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces, it includes multiple indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony and reception sites. The resort's signature venue, Sunset Point, offers the ultimate Cowboy Town experience with a stunning backdrop of the Arizona desert. And it has the Red Door Spa by Elizabeth Arden.

The Enchantment Resort
Lauded by a number of resort and spa publications, The Enchantment Resort lives up to more than just its name. On 70 secluded acres, nestled into 1,500 vertical feet of red rock in the Boynton Canyon, the setting is breathtaking. One of the most spectacular spots of scenic landscapes in the world, it’s hard not to see why so many people flock here. The pueblo-style architecture blends with the landscape. The 216 individual casitas can be booked as two-bedroom suites, one-bedroom suites, or single rooms, but it's worth reserving a suite just so you can enjoy the casita living rooms, which feature high-beamed ceilings and beehive fireplaces.

The adjacent, Mii Amo Spa, rated #1 destination spa by Travel & Leisure magazine, offers all-inclusive packages with 16 separate rooms and suites in the spa complex, as well as a myriad of treatments and innovative spa cuisine. In addition to personal stays, the Enchantment also offers three ballrooms as meeting facilities. For the outdoors person, several hiking trails are accessible from The Enchantment.

Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North
10600 East Crescent Moon Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85262-8342 
Tel: 1-480-515-5700

Arizona Biltmore

2400 East Missouri Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 85016

Reservations: 800.950.0086

Hotel Ph: 602-955-6600

Montelucia Resort & Spa

4949 E. Lincoln Drive

Scottsdale, AZ 85253

Ph: 888-627-3010

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel
340 North 3rd Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

The Wigwam Resort
300 East Wigwam Blvd.

Litchfield Park, Arizona 85340

Ph: 623-935-3811

Toll-Free: 1-800-327-0396

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Enchantment Resort
525 Boynton Canyon Road
Sedona, AZ 86336
Ph: 928-282-2900

The Top-10 Cultural Travel Hot List 2012

YangonThe top 10 places to travel this year consists of destinations that have been booked for upcoming months and exotic places they would like to discover. In the past,The Artisans of Leisure has set up not only private tours, chose lavish hotels, but has thoroughly researched places that spark frequent travelers with great interest. ould

It is time to explore the striking views of each unique country. 

Below is the top ten travel list for 2012:

 Cultural Travel Hot List 2012

1. Myanmar (Burma)
2. Portugal
3. England
4. Peru
5. China
6. India
7. South Africa
8. Germany
9. Israel
10. Morocco

1. Myanmar (Burma):
Myanmar's nascent democratization is great news for the Burmese and inspiration for travelers wanting to visit this beautiful but little-known country, where Artisans of Leisure has operated tours for years. Artisans of Leisure notes that Myanmar has also become a popular destination for honeymooners seeking culture, value and an exotic once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Myanmar experiences:

Meeting and observing master artisans (lacquer, gold leaf, textiles, ceramics and wood)
Visiting a monastery to learn about Buddhism and the lifestyle of monks
Hot-air balloon rides over the temples and pagodas of Bagan

2. Portugal:
Why has Portugal become one of Artisans of Leisure's most frequently booked destinations in Europe for the coming months? In addition to two key reasons--great value and an increasing number of luxury hotel options--are Portugal's impressive culture, incredibly rich history, excellent food and wine, high-quality traditional crafts, and great modern design.

Portugal experiences: 

Exclusive private boat rides on the Douro River
Private, behind-the-scenes tours of Portugal's leading decorative tile factory
Access to remote locations with spectacular fossilized dinosaur tracks

3. England:
London is more festive and exciting than ever, with preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The city is buzzing with new luxury hotels, incredible new restaurants, acclaimed new museum exhibitions and other new cultural attractions. London is also the gateway to England's many other popular destinations, such as the Cotswolds, Oxford and Bath, all of which are featured on Artisans of Leisure tours.

England experiences: 

Insider shopping and foodie tours in London
Private cricket lessons at Lord's Cricket Ground
Access to private gardens and heritage-listed homes

4. Peru:
New luxury hotels in the beautiful Sacred Valley and in fascinating Cusco--where the much anticipated Palacio Nazarenas hotel is scheduled to open in summer 2012--are adding even more appeal to this outstanding destination. Artisans of Leisure Peru tours are esp

ecially popular with families, who enjoy traveling on the legendary Hiram Bingham train, expert-led tours of iconic Machu Picchu, and luxury Amazon cruises.

Peru experiences: 

Private tours of little-visited Inca and pre-Inca sitesPrivately guided hiking excursions to traditional villages
Private tours of Machu Picchu with an archaeologist

5. China:
China is a perennial favorite for cultural travelers, many of whom return regularly with Artisans of Leisure to explore different regions or see what's new in the rapidly developing Middle Kingdom. Contributing to China's popularity are expanding luxury hotel, dining and shopping options in places such as Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, as well as new luxury hotels in more remote destinations such as Xian and Lhasa, Tibet.

China experiences:  Private kung fu lessons

Tours of private sections of the Forbidden City
Private art and architecture tours in Shanghai

6. India:
India is in high demand for 2012 as many sophisticated travelers are either visiting the country for the first time or returning to explore new regions. India's palace-style luxury hotels, spectacular cultural sites, and great regional diversity make it irresistible. And ongoing improvement

s in infrastructure are making travel in the country ever more accessible and comfortable. Artisans of Leisure India tours feature not only iconic destinations such as Delhi, Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Varanasi, but also incredible but less-visited places such as Kerala, game reserves, and Ajanta and Ellora.

India experiences:

Private Bollywood dance classes
Private yoga lessons in spectacular settings
A private cooking class with a royal chef

7. South Africa:
Retired baby boomers and families account for the uptick in the popularity of Artisans of Leisure South Africa tours, where a safari in one (or more) of the top game reserves is a dream trip for even the most worldly travelers. The company's tours appeal to both demographics with sophisticated touring in Cape Town and the Winelands, customized activities for all ages, and safaris at Singita and other luxury lodges in Sabi Sand Reserve, Kruger National Park and malaria-free regions.

South Africa experiences:

Private game drives while on safariVisits to local schools and community projects
Personalized wine touring with a local expert

8. Germany:
Good value, an increasing interest in 20th-century history, and Germany's abundance of outstanding art museums, modern architecture and picturesque villages are among the many reasons Artisans of Leisure Germany tours are gaining in popularity for 2012. Many of the company's travelers like to combine Germany with destinations in neighboring countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Germany experiences:

Researching family heritage (visits to hometowns, meeting with local genealogical specialists)
Private, behind-the-scenes tours at legendary concert halls and museums
Tours of car factories (e.g. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Porsche)

9. Israel:
Israel remains enormously popular for 2012 because it's one of the easiest and most rewarding travel destinations in the Middle East. Sophisticated travelers love Israel for its great food, mild climate, incredible ancient ruins, design districts and spa resorts. Travelers on Artisans of Leisure Israel tours enjoy activities such as private cultural touring in Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea, and visiting a Druze village.

Israel experiences:

Private safaris by jeep or camel in the Negev Desert
A day working on an archaeological dig
Private architecture and design tours in Tel Aviv

10. Morroco:
The opening of a number of new luxury hotels and resorts in Marrakesh over recent months has focused even more attention on Morocco, which has long been popular among Artisans of Leisure travelers for an exotic adventure that includes luxury spa resorts, private day hikes, private cooking classes and desert safaris. Morocco's ongoing popularity is also due in part to its mild climate, which helps make it a great year-round destination.

Morocco experiences:

Private air charters to remote Sahara Desert locations for overnight Bedouin safaris
Private shopping tours in the souks
Exclusive private dinners with Moroccan music, belly dancers and tray dancers

List and notes provided by Artisans of Leisure.

For more detailed information on travels and booking please visit: 

Artisans of Leisure
18 East 16th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Union Square West) 

Suite 301 New York, NY 10003 USA

(212) 243-3239 or (800) 214-8144

Cityscape: Try Out Greater Phoenix

The Phoenix area of Arizona has quietly become a rival to South Florida in attracphoenix-travel-Wildfire-Faldo-2ting visitors from the Northeast United States who are looking for a respite from cold weather. What's intriguing about Phoenix is how its diverse lodging properties can truly shape a getaway.

(2012, incidentally, marks the centennial of Arizona being admitted as our 48th state.)

Until recently a very sleepy home to faceless government office buildings, downtown Phoenix has been transformed by the new Phoenix Convention Center and by its growing professional sports sector. Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks play at Chase Field while the NBA’s Phoenix Suns play across the street at the US Airways Center.

The 31-story Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel opened a couple of years ago and it has over 1,000 rooms, making it Arizona’s largest hotel. With that kind of available occupancy, leisure travelers can get great deals, particularly on weekends.

The Sheraton’s main restaurant, District, has become popular for its happy hour. If you want to blend in with the locals, stop by after 5 PM and enjoy sloppy joe sliders, Tepary bean hummus, and a cold glass of white peach sangria.

The days of having to travel for the privilege of gambling in a casino are past. The executives at the Talking Stick Casino, located in ritzy Scottsdale, realize this as they entice visitors not just with slots and card games, but with reasonable room rates, Vegas-style entertainment, and very good food. Most casino buffets that I have sampled throughout the country offer quantity at the expensive of quality.

The Talking Stick’s Wandphoenix-travel-Wildfire-poolering Horse Buffet cooks nearly everything from scratch. Its $9.95 breakfast can fill you up for the entire day and is very popular with the locals. You can’t help but feel good taking a dip after taking dip at the Talking Stick’s outdoor pool and relaxing in the hot tub with mighty Red Mountain in the background.

The Talking Stick’s sizable collection of Southwest Native American art work and artifacts rivals that of downtown Phoenix’s Heard Museum.

The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort, located a few miles away on the North Phoenix-Scottsdale border, has everything a vacationer can desire. The Desert Ridge’s Wildfire Golf Club features two championship golf courses that were designed by PGA legends Nick Faldo and Arnold Palmer, respectively. The Wildfire is a terrific place to either learn the game or brush up on it as its instructors are certified by the game’s publishing bible, Golf Digest.

The Desert Ridge Resort will certainly satisfy your epicurean desires. The Tuscany restaurant offers modern Italian cuisine. Roy’s specializes in both seafood and Polynesian dishes. Meritage is a terrific steakhouse that is arguably the Valley of the Sun’s answer to Peter Luger’s. Finally, the Blue Sage Restaurant offers hearty American fare and its breakfasts are quite popular. Make sure to sample the prickly pear cactus juice.

A mile away from the Desert Ridge is Phoenix’s newest attraction, the Musical Instrument Museum. Yes, there are guitars from Elvis, Carlos Santana, and Paul Simon on display. phoenix-travel-Musical

But what makes this place special is the number of instruments from around the world that are not only on display, but visitors are encouraged to play as well, including a baby grand piano from Queens, NY, Steinway’s factory.

Scottsdale was the longtime winter home of arguably the most famous architect in history, Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright’s home, Taliesin West, is now used as a school of architecture and it’s open to the public.

Make sure to visit the lush green Scottsdale Mall, which was inspired by the Washington Mall in D.C. While there is no Capitol or major monuments here, nearly every local civic institution has its office building here.

Make sure, also, to stop by the Scottsdale Historical Museum. The admission is free and a highlight is legendary western sculptor Frederic Remington’s famous "Bronco Buster" statue.

The Hermosa Inn, situated in upscale Paradise Valley, consists of 34 single-story hacienda-style rooms. The rooms all have canopy beds so it’s best to enjoy the Hermosa Inn with that special someone.

Lon’s is the Hermosa’s signature restaurant, and an outdoor dinner under the starry sky is a truly memorable experience. Many of the fruits and vegetables served here are grown on the premises.

Combine the Hermosa’s architecture with the cholla and other cactus that are integral parts of its landscaping and you feel like you are living in the Arizona of Barry Goldwater’s childhood.phoenix-travel-Hermosa-Inn

Papago Park, which is home to both the highly regarded Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden, is a fifteen-minute drive from the Hermosa Inn.

If you are looking for value, the city of Mesa is to Phoenix what Queens is to Manhattan. You can easily get to downtown Phoenix by taking its relatively new and inexpensive light rail line.

Mesa has a lot of terrific Mexican restaurants, such as Rancho de Tia Rosa and its hotels have lower rates than almost any other town in the Valley of the Sun.

The Mesa Arts Center is greater Phoenix’s answer to Lincoln Center. The spring training home to the Chicago Cubs, Mesa is also located near most of the other stadiums used by other major league teams who spend March in Arizona.

Forest Hills’ own JetBlue offers two daily flights from New York's JFK Airport to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Not only does JetBlue offer great fares, but on all of its flights you can watch DIRECTV at your seat. (It seemed as if every passenger was cheering on the Giants on my flight back to New York.)

For more information, call the Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau at 877-CALLPHX or log onto

Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel
340 N. 3rd Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Talking Stick Resort and Casino
9800 E. Indian Bend  
Scottsdale, AZ 85256

JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort
5350 East Marriott Drive
Phoenix, AZ

Hermosa Inn
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd  
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

The Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art
2301 N. Central Avenue  
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E. Mayo Boulevard  
Phoenix, AZ 85050

Taliesin West
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ
480-860-2700 x494

Scottsdale Historical Museum
7333 E. Scottsdale Mall  
Scottsdale, AZ 85251-4414

Mesa Arts Center
1 E. Main Street  
Mesa, AZ 85201-7403

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