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April 12, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: A Ludwig Dance Theatre

  |   Video
  • The Tempe-based A Ludwig Dance Theatre is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a series of performances April 19-22.Learn more about it and the art of dance from the company’s founder and director Ann Ludwig.
  • Ann Ludwig - Director, Founder, A Ludwig Dance Theatre
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: artbeat, art, dance, theatre, ,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" features Tempe-based A Ludwig Dance Theatre, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary with four performances of "Looking Back; Moving Forward." The production features recreated works from the company's past and a new piece that explores the U.S. constitution. Known for using dance as a form of social commentary, A Ludwig Dance will present works that touch on war, politics, and women's rights. More on that with the company's founder and director, but first, photographer Steve Snow gives us a peek at a rehearsal that took place earlier this week.

Ann Ludwig: Why is dance important to me. It's sort of a way of life. It's something that gives answers, asks questions. A science of the arts to my mind. This is our 35th year, and we've been making a lot of dances along the way, one from the early '90s, the war in Iraq, another about women's rights and the role of women many in society. It's always had that kind of political-social bit to it. I keep thinking I'm going to do plain old fun old dance, but it always evolves into something else more often. I guess I just like making dances, and I like maybe I like being able to say things on stage I didn't dare say to somebody in person, I don't know.

Ted Simons: Joining me now is Ann Ludwig, director, choreographer, founder of A Ludwig Dance Theatre. Thank you so much for joining us.

Ann Ludwig: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Oldest performing dance company in Arizona. And actually you started in California, correct?

Ann Ludwig: Yes. In 1977. I moved here to teach at ASU in 1979, so transferred here. And we began.

Ted Simons: How did you get started? Why start a dance troupe? A dance theater, a dance company?

Ann Ludwig: Well, I guess I was a dancer, I had been teaching prior to that, and directing a University dance company in Iowa. And didn't want the conflict, but when I moved to California I was free to form a company and to put on stage what I was anything my head, I guess.

Ted Simons: What were you thinking in your head? Have those thoughts changed over the years?

Ann Ludwig: Well, I think they've kind of followed the flow, and a lot of those thoughts haven't changed, as you look at historically. And I think that's why we're bringing back some of the pieces we are this concert run.

Ted Simons: Yeah. And I know we mentioned a lot of the performance deals with social issues, you were talking in the piece you start off wanting to do a dance and all of a sudden when stuff comes in there. Domestic violence, alcoholism, homelessness, that's pretty serious stuff. How do you translate it to dance?

Ann Ludwig: Well, with difficulty. I think a lot of people feel you can't do that, but that's not the venue for portraying those kinds of issues. The dance should be pretty, and there are a lot of people that don't agree. So it gives people a chance to look at something and think about something and maybe a little different way than they might have before.

Ted Simons: Do you want them to look and think about something, or -- I don't know, maybe a lot of times you try to keep it from being a polemic. Or do you want people to say, here's one stand, give me a better idea if you got it?

Ann Ludwig: I think your audience will be in the same ballpark would be a nice thing. So you're kind of thinking along the same lines, for this kind of a content, this kind of an intent.

Ted Simons: So basically you don't think you'll be -- people won't be screaming and running and throwing things.

Ann Ludwig: They could. I don't know.

Ted Simons: You hear about that kind of stuff about 100 years ago.

Ann Ludwig: I remember during the domestic violence there were several people that walked out.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Ann Ludwig: They didn't feel the stage was that kind of a place that they came to see a nice lovely concert, and this was poking at something that bothered them.

Ted Simons: And if you had a chance to speak to them face-to-face what would you say?

Ann Ludwig: I'd just ask them to examine some of the reasons why they were feeling that way, and weigh them with the pros and cons.

Ted Simons: When it comes to artistic expression and especially from the ground up, the person who choreographer, the collaborate -- how do you -- domestic violence, how do you turn that into movement? What goes through -- is it visual, it is something that's cerebral?

Ann Ludwig: I think there is a certain gestures. The thing with social kinds of issues, they do have certain gestures that lead someone down the path of trying to understand what that particular intent is. Now, the piece that we're doing in this particular concert has a lot of gestures and a lot of intent, and then some movement that may not seem like it’s part of what we're thinking of. And yet it is. It's an abstraction and it's something that fills the -- I guess fills the void area of places that allows people to get there.

Ted Simons: The upcoming special performances, talk to us more about what you plan on doing and what we plan on seeing.

Ann Ludwig: Well, the first part, looking back. I've pulled three pieces, one from 1981, which is -- what is it, it's five points for computer narrator dancer, and bathtub. David Barker is a theater professor, well known in the city I believe, and he is reading the poetry and there are three dancers kind of cavorting around. I always think of that as sort of a '80s version of the Twilight Zone. And another one deals with women's role in society, women's rights, and therefore men as well. That's one we premiered in New York and took it on tour in Europe. And I always thought I would come back and the situation certainly seems like it's appropriate still.

Ted Simons: Sure. Sure. Well, last question here, the challenges of running a dance company in a down economy. Is it as -- did you have some real trouble in the past few years?

Ann Ludwig: Well, it's been trouble for the past 35 years. I'm not sure I could single out the last two. I think that we have been a small enough company, grass-roots, artist driven organization, like many across the country, and it's hard to snuff us out because we are so small. We don't have the budget of the larger companies and the ballet companies so we can struggle away and pay dancers. And pay administrators. I think the only one that doesn't get paid maybe is yours truly.

Ted Simons: But you're behind it and it sounds like things have been going -- congratulations on 35 years and good luck with the performances and I hope it's a big success and hope you're around for another 35.

Ann Ludwig: Oh, my. That's a long time.

Ted Simons: That’s a lot of dancing, thank you for joining us.

Ann Ludwig: My feet hurt.

Citizenship Counts

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  • The Phoenix-based nonprofit Citizenship Counts is spreading its message of the value of American citizenship, and the rights and responsibilities that go along with it, to the Nation’s youth with a cross-country bike ride and walk. Learn more about it from Alysa Ullman, executive director and founder of Citizenship Counts.
  • Alysa Ullman - Executive Director, Founder, Citizenship Counts
Category: Culture   |   Keywords: citizenship, counts, nonprofit, ride, walk, ,

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Ted Simons: An Arizona couple is hiking and biking across the country to support the Citizenship Counts nonprofit. Along the way John and Diane Eckstein are stopping at schools to teach kids what it means to be a good American citizen. Here with more about the journey is Alysa Ullman, Executive Director of Citizenship Counts. Talk about your organization and what you're trying to do here.

Alysa Ullman: We are a national nonprofit organization that's headquartered here in Phoenix. And we work with middle and high school students, essentially we educate them on their rights and responsibilities as citizens of this country and teach them to appreciate and celebrate diversity in the classroom, and the community, and beyond throughout the country. And so we do so by -- we have a series of lesson plans that are integrated into the classroom that teach students about the rights and responsibilities about the naturalization process, it's the kind -- to kind of help them understand what people who weren't fortunate to have been born here, many people from all over the world come here for freedoms that some of us take for granted.

Ted Simons: How many schools are taking part in this?

Alysa Ullman: We work --

Ted Simons: Public schools, private schools?

Alysa Ullman: All of the above. Public, private, and charter schools. We spent the first couple years piloting our program with schools in Arizona, and last year we worked with schools in Buffalo, Cincinnati, Washington D.C., Omaha -- So it's wonderful to -- really one of the goals is to increase outreach and awareness for our program.

Ted Simons: I want to get to the journey, but when you describe the curriculum and you describe what your organization does, I keep thinking, what happened to civics classes?

Alysa Ullman: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Are they not there?

Alysa Ullman: They are there, but I think unfortunately social studies so times gets pushed to the side because they're not subjects that are tested on. And so wonderful thing is all of our lesson plans are aligned to the national council of social studies standards, and so there are materials that need to and have to be taught in the classroom. A lot of teachers have chosen to use our materials, because we use these lessons to teach the students, about citizenship and then kind of bring the learning to life. So -- in many communities we work closely with the United States citizenship and immigration services in the federal courts for students to host naturalization ceremonies, or other celebrations of citizenship in their school or in a community venue.

Ted Simons: Hosting those ceremonies, that must be something.

Alysa Ullman: It's one of those things that's hard to describe, the emotion of the ceremonies until you go to one. The first time I went to one I just remembered there was a man there, at 9:30 in the morning, and people from all over the world there and the man was there in a tuxedo. And he said this is the proudest day of his life. So we're just trying to instill that pride in America with these students.

Ted Simons: That's great stuff. We're seeing people here now, going through the process, the kids have to be affected. What in the world are these people doing riding their bicycle from San Diego to New York?

Alysa Ullman: Diane Eckstein is one of our board members who is just been so incredible with ideas and so many ways she's helped us advance our program. And her husband Dr. John Eckstein, and her came to me a little over a year ago with an idea to help with visibility and increasing outreach. That was, they wanted to take about five months to do a walk and bike across the country, partnering with various schools and community groups that would use our lesson plans that would culminate in naturalization ceremonies or other celebrations of citizenship along the way. So you than imagine an incredible undertaking, but just the fact that here you have this prominent physician, Don Eckstein is a physician here locally in the valley, that would give five months of their time and their lives and their effort and money to do this really to kind of help advance our cause. And really be inspiration behind their journey is the life of our founder, a Holocaust survivor, author and proud naturalized citizen herself, and the work of our organization. And along the way we started in San Diego, and we worked with a number of schools and groups, went south, went through Arizona, we had a couple of events here, one in Phoenix and our Tucson event coincided with a centennial event, and from there we went through New Mexico to Las Cruces, Austin, College Station, Dallas, and right now they are right outside of Memphis. So they're about I think 2300 miles through their journey.

Ted Simons: When you say they, that's the couple, and the dog who is -- the dog is keeping a blog.

Alysa Ullman: The dog is keeping a blog. John and Diane have a dog Kip that is accompanying them. We also have two incredible interns, Kelly and Tyler, and they have just been so amazing in terms of helping with logistics along the way. Essentially John and Tyler are 3500 miles is what this journey is from start to finish, and that's actually 10 times the 350-mile death march our founder did towards the end of the Holocaust.

Ted Simons: I wanted to mention more about her, because her story is shown at the Holocaust museum in Washington, and that was the inspiration there. If she can do it, we can certainly ride our bikes across the country was the thought.

Alysa Ullman: Exactly. John said, thinking back to what she went through, during that death march, sleeping outside in the winter and terrible conditions, he said every night he has his wife to go home to, and sleeping comfortably, they're in an R.V., and has a meal to look forward to. So basically he's biking 50 miles one day and the next day they'll do a 10, 15-mile walk with Kip, and bike the next day and take the next day off. And they have -- it's been incredible to see -- I actually attended several of the events, and just obviously going to the naturalization ceremonies are extremely inspiring, each one is unique, but just seeing his dedication to get on that bike or take that walk every day, it's incredible.

Ted Simons: It's great work. Especially teaching kids about the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen. I'm sure it's a challenge to get those minds around it, but good luck to the bikers and hikers. Good luck to you.

Alysa Ullman: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Feds Approve “KidsCare” Funding Plan

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  • Federal officials have approved a plan that makes about 22-thousand low income Arizona children eligible for Arizona’s “KidsCare” health insurance program. In addition, the plan helps three of the State’s largest hospital systems cover costs of providing uncompensated care. Maricopa Integrated Health System CEO Betsey Bayless explains how the plan is designed to work.
  • Betsey Bayless - CEO, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: medical, health, kids, children, funding, plan, ,

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Former State Representative Daniel Patterson, a long-time Democrat, will be replaced in the legislature by an Independent. Patterson changed his voter registration after his fellow Democrats demanded his resignation for a variety of alleged ethics violations. Secretary of state Ken Bennett said today that Patterson registered bark as a Democratic 25 minutes after he resigned, which means according to Bennett, he was a registered independent when he stepped Eclipse Educational version only -- not for commercial use

Ted Simons: State will soon start accepting applications for medical marijuana dispensaries, after the attorney general's office signed off on the program. Dispensary applications will be accepted from May 14th to May 25th with up to 126 dispensary permits expected to be issued by early August.

Ted Simons: Federal officials have approved a plan that makes about 22,000 low-income Arizona children eligible for the state's KidsCare health insurance program. In addition, the plan helps three of the state's largest hospital systems cover costs associated with providing care to the uninsured, and all of this is accomplished with no additional state funding. Here to explain all this is Betsey Bayless, President and CEO of Maricopa integrated health system. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us. Last time we had you on, this was hoped for. It's done now.

Betsey Bayless: Yes, it is. The money hasn't arrived. But we did get the OK from the federal government.

Ted Simons: So explain, give us a general explanation of what's going on with your organization, and others, and what that is drawing into the state.

Betsey Bayless: OK. I would be happy to do that. If I could just take a little poetic license here, Maricopa integrated health care system is the only public hospital only public health care system in Arizona.

Betsey Bayless: We have the Maricopa medical center, two psychiatric hospitals, 11 clinics. And a health plan. Last year the state legislature cut access by about a third, the AHCCCS -- the AHCCCS plan, which is our state Medicaid. Since my system is about 65% AHCCCS, we saw an immediate drop in funds coming in and in a big increase in uncompensated care. This was going on across the state of Arizona, we felt it particularly hard. So I got together with Phoenix Children's Hospital, and they have a huge Medicaid population as well. And also University of Arizona health network. Which has a huge Medicaid population. And we created a program, now, this was a year ago. We created a program whereby we would go to the federal government, pay a match, and draw funds down. Into our systems. Now, I want to thank Governor Brewer for helping us. And also Tom Metlack and the whole AHCCCS crew. They were very helpful in doing this. And I particularly want to thank Governor -- Congressman Ed Pastor, because during the course of this year we've had so many times when the federal government said, we're not going to do this. And each time the Congressman would jump in and make it happen. So what we will be doing, we will be putting up over $100 million, the three of us, and drawing down 300 million. And out of that 300 million, 44 million is going to be carved out and it's going to go to KidsCare. The program that insures children. And we have agreed to fund 22,500 children. KidsCare used to have something like 57,000, and then it dwindled, and now it's about 11,000, because it's frozen. So this will be a boost although it certainly not going to do the whole job.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, there's over 100,000 on the waiting list. But something is being done here. This is considered a bridge, is it not, until 2014?

Betsey Bayless: It is a bridge to 2014. We don't know what's going to happen in 2014. If health care reform goes forward, then people who aren't insured, they will have health insurance. If it does not, I think you will see the federal government and the state government turn around and look at programs like this and say, we've got to continue this.

Ted Simons: What -- Maricopa medical center, what are you seeing there you mentioned when the money goes down, all of a sudden the patients go up and it's a very bad formula. What are you seeing on the ground?

Betsey Bayless: Well, we used to have about $5 million a month in uncompensated care. In March of this year, it was $10 million. So after the state made the changes in AHCCCS reimbursement, it's climbed steadily, so now we're at $10 million a month. We can't do that. I went to the governor and I said, we can't sustain this. You've got to help us do something. So we can survive and take care of the people -- the people don't go away, the money might go away, but the people need care.

Ted Simons: With this money coming in, obviously it helps as providing care to the uninsured, helps regarding KidsCare. And as far as -- I guess infrastructure improvements to the three organizations, that's there as well, correct?

Betsey Bayless: That is not.

Ted Simons: It is not there?

Betsey Bayless: The next step that you'll be hearing about is what's called the improvement pool. This is the safety net care pool. Now, the improvement pool is the next thing we're going to be working on, and it's going to focus on expansion of services. Now, it can't be just capital, but expansion of services could include services that require new offices or something like that. So we're very anxious to get started on that.

Ted Simons: We've got you three, ponying up over $100 million, drawing a couple million from the feds totaling $300 million, no cost to the state. Is that enough? How far does it go?

Betsey Bayless: Well, that's not enough. I'm just talking about three systems in the state of Arizona. You can talk to any health care system and they're going to tell you the exact same story to a less -- much lesser degree than I have. But they're all hurting. And they all want to get in on something. Now, the issue with this program is, you have to have a government partner because the match money has to be public money. We're a government, so we can do that. Phoenix children's uses a matching conjunction with University of Arizona, and the U of A health network matches with Pima County.

Ted Simons: Last question -- money not here yet, but should be here soon? Early May I heard? Maybe?

Betsey Bayless: I doubt it. We have to fund KidsCare May 1st. And so we have said, please, if we're going to fund KidsCare May 1st, get us that money as quickly as you can. I would hope it would be in June. I can't promise that. I know all of us have been since October really hurting and needing this money.

Ted Simons: Well, it sounds like things are moving forward. Congratulations on that. It's good to have you here. Thanks so much for joining us.

Betsey Bayless: Thank you very much.