DPJ’s Urban Form series looks at the interplay between movement and surroundings through the lens of dancers and architecture in downtown Phoenix.


Dancer Nicole Olson.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
 -Leonardo da Vinci (Selected by Nicole Olson)

On Tuesday mornings in downtown, you’ll find a bustle of Phoenicians with sleep still in their eyes, following along the path of their daily routine. A glimmer of mid-week is calling, but alas they have to get through today to make it to Wednesday. There I was in my sweats, hair messy, with the shadows from the buildings between Washington and Adams making the wind cold. As I awaited dancer and Mayor’s Arts Award winner Nicole Olson, I noticed the colors surrounding me were a sea of neutrals. When Nicole appeared, she brought along with her a complimentary shock of color and vibrancy, like the coming spring season.

In every movement of her body and in her career in downtown Phoenix, Nicole personifies grace with a hint of rambunctious jitter. People stopped to watch her laugh and turn, reminding them that living with joy and fearlessness is an option open to all. In the midst of the everyday, art is what makes it a little more unexpected and a little more wonderful.

Photos by Ashley Baker.