There will be free salsa--but no tortilla chips--when the Salsa Soulseros dance instructors give free salsa lessons on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the Historic Y. Head instructor Bruce Montoya said the reason they are offering free classes is so they can spread the passion for salsa dancing throughout Tucson.
"We want to teach as many people as we can about this beautiful dance," Montoya said. Although salsa dancing is a type of partner dance, you don't need a partner for the class. There are many different varieties of salsa dancing, and the Salsa Soulseros team teaches Los Angeles-style. The L.A. style can be very seductive, so Montoya and his instructors have toned it down for the Tucson crowd.
Although Montoya admitted salsa can be difficult to master, if the student has patience, it can be learned. Montoya said they try to keep the classes basic in the beginning, and teach just the foundations. People attending the beginners' class can expect to be taught the basic step, right turn, left turn and cross partner lead. With this knowledge, one could go out and dance at a club if they wanted to, Montoya said.
Montoya became involved with salsa dancing in 1991 after serving in the Gulf War. He had a Puerto Rican friend who was really into it, and he taught Montoya. Montoya became so enamored with salsa that he started a dance group at the UA in 1996, which evolved into the current group, the Salsa Soulseros. The name of the group comes from a comment from another instructor, who was so passionate about salsa that he said it was "in his soul." --S.B.
The Gaslight Theatre has existed since 1977. And never before have the Gaslight folks welcomed mariachi music to their stage. Therefore, we can forgive them for calling Monday's concert a "historical night" (even though they should have dropped the "al"). It may not be up there with the invention of the cotton gin--or even sliced bread--but it's at least a little historic.
The lineup they've put together for this mariachi inaugural is pretty darned good. Mariachi Sonido de Mexico, with members ranging in age from 13 to 21, has a goal of promoting and appreciating the art of mariachi music. The 10-member Mariachi Cielo de Mexico is reportedly the only Arizona mariachi group to perform at the Mariachi USA concert in Hollywood. And finally, the performers will include Elise Ackermann and her mother, Linda. Elise, a Tucson native, grew up performing mariachi and is currently a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the chorus of the Boston Pops and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Becky Gilmour, Gaslight's director of public relations, says she took over Gaslight's Monday night concert series about six months ago, and she noticed the various musical acts kept attracting "different, but similar" crowds. "I'm trying to bring in different types of music, and different cultures," she says.
While this may be the first mariachi concert at Gaslight, don't expect it to be the last; Gilmour says she would love to get mariachi on the Gaslight stage several times a year, and she's tentatively slotted the next such concert for April.
Admission for Monday's Mariachi Extravaganza! costs $12, $10 for seniors, students and active military members, and $6.95 for children. --J.B.
This isn't your normal creative writing class ... well, maybe it is, depending how cranky the students are.
In Not in the Classroom, debuting at the Cabaret Theater this Friday, a quartet of college students in a creative writing class proudly attempt to out-zing each other, much to the chagrin of the passive-aggressive prof who cannot control his class.
The premise of the 30-minute play was originally devised as a sketch created for a 24-hour playwriting competition at Oberlin College.
Through chaos comes comedy, says co-producer Clare McNulty, a junior at Oberlin, a small liberal arts college in Ohio. The play, written by fellow junior Sarah-Violet Bliss, was inspired by their experiences with creative writing classes and the torments some people go through during open critique sessions.
"The idea originated because my friend Sarah and I were at Oberlin, and we wanted to do something creative," McNulty says; both are theater majors and have parts in the play. It is the first production they've created themselves.
Gathering a cast in Tucson was relatively easy--four of the five members graduated from University High School. Bliss hails from New York.
When their summer vacations end, the cast of real college students will return to their individual schools: Oberlin, Duke University, Wesleyan College and the UA
Don't let their ages give an assumption of inexperience: They have participated with the Arizona Theater Company or been involved in other theatrical productions since high school.
"It's neat to come back to Tucson and have theater folks see what we have done," McNulty says.
Tickets for this play are $7 at the door. --M.W.
Arthropods form one of the most diverse phyla within the animal kingdom. From spiders to millipedes to ocean crabs, arthropods are found worldwide from sea to sand.
Held by the nonprofit Sonoran Arthropod Studies Institute, the Invertebrates in Captivity Conference celebrates the creepy-crawlies that freak most folks out. The conference features an exhibit hall, with an array of live insects to view, thanks to a duo of insect vendors. One vendor will feature a variety of local insects from the local desert; the other will have exotic spiders, says Emily Francis, assistant director of SASI and coordinator of the conference. Expect to spot scorpions, tarantulas and other invertebrates as part of the live insects available to see and learn about. The exhibit hall also will have a wide variety of other vendors.
"(The conference) is about making the public aware of the necessity of the bugs that most people might scream about," she says--and a necessity it is, Francis says, for the benefit of the ecosystem.
While the conference itself is limited to members of SASI, the exhibit hall is open to the public. This is the 12th iteration of the conference.
Steve Prchal founded SASI in 1986; the institute is located inside Tucson Mountain Park, a large section of land that also includes Old Tucson Studios. The SASI membership roster is international, but most members come from Southern Arizona.
Admission to the exhibit hall is free. Rio Rico is roughly 60 miles away from Tucson, located directly south near Nogales. --M.W.