What's the difference between a bunch of lederhosen-wearing German guys and a Tohono O'odham band? Well, OK, there are a lot of differences. But the two groups do have one thing in common: polka!
Waila, the popular social dance music of the Tohono O'odham tribe, sounds just like polka, with accordions and everything. Similar to norteño music--but without the lyrics--it evolved out of songs brought to Northern Mexico by Germans and other European settlers back in the 1800s. Today, it's commonly played at feasts, weddings and graduations and is part of the everyday lives of Tohono O'odham people young and old.
This Saturday's 18th Annual Waila Festival offers a chance for us all--O'odham or not--to take part in an evening of great music, lively dancing and traditional Native American foods. There will be a fiddle band playing waila of an older style, as well as three contemporary groups complete with saxophones, electric guitars and drum kits. Types of dancing will range from polka to waltzing to two-step, and everyone is encouraged to join in. And even if you're a white guy in lederhosen, you won't feel out of place--of the people who've attended in the past, about half have been non-O'odham.
Festival director Angelo Joaquin Jr. sees the event as a way to keep the tribe's culture alive throughout the region, as well as to share an understanding of its uniqueness and authenticity with the general public. "The festival helps change the stereotypical image many people have of American Indians," he says. That is "that they all listen to flute music, dance to drums and wear feathers."
The festival is free, as is parking, which can be found in the UA garage adjacent to the Bear Down Field. For more information, call the Arizona Historical Society at 628-5774. --A.M.
I'm not exactly a fashion-show type of person. In fact, I've always loathed that kind of thing. Scantily-clad, emaciated models in clothes that can cost more than a really nice car? No thanks.
But this event is different. Far from perpetuating the superficiality of the fashion world, the Aurora Foundation's disABLED Divaz Fashion Show will feature empowered young women with strong self-esteem--who also happen to be disabled. With problems ranging from vision and hearing impairments to autism to spinal injuries, these 21 college-age models will show the public that having a disability doesn't make them any less hip or beautiful.
The idea came from a former Aurora Foundation intern who, rendered paraplegic through a snowboarding accident, found it difficult to come by clothing that was trendy, comfortable and wheelchair-friendly. Ultimately, the foundation would like to develop a line of clothing specifically tailored for disabled young women. But for now, this event is a great first step toward raising community awareness.
"We want to challenge society's beliefs and views about girls with disabilities," says Allison Grossman, the disABLED Divaz program coordinator. "(We want) to help them see the stigma so often attached to disability, and to recognize how 'abled' these girls really are."
The fashionable clothing, which will be modeled in three different categories, has been donated or loaned from stores and boutiques around Tucson, including Por Moi, Creations and Buffalo Exchange. The event will cost $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $10 for students and children younger than 10. All proceeds will benefit the Aurora Foundation's Leaders for Lifetime program, which will take place this summer to mentor disadvantaged high school girls and teach them inclusive leadership skills. --A.M.
Hey! Want to win $15,000? All you have to do is prove that gravity works the way scientists say it does.
Author Michael Jones, a "lifelong student of the universe" based in Tacoma, Wash., is offering the cash prize as part of the Logical Universe Gravitational Challenge, which challenges anyone to prove that gravity is the result of objects pulling on one another.
Personally, we subscribe to The Onion's theory of "intelligent falling." But Jones says that scientists have it all wrong. He offers the novel notion that the fabric of the universe, which is in motion, pushes objects toward each other, which is why we stick to the planet. He says there has never been an experiment that supports the traditional view, which goes against Einstein's observations that space is warped around large objects. To Jones, it's an issue of light, gravity and inertia.
"Light travels radially outward in all directions away from its source," Jones explains in publicity materials, "and gravity acts radially inward in all directions toward matter. Although this inverse similarity alone may not convince some people of the direct link, the equality of the velocity of light and gravity is solid evidence and cannot be considered a mere coincidence."
Still not sold? Don't look back to grade school for the answer. Jones says that, in modern textbooks, scientists assume that gravity is a proven fact, not a theory. He believes that these "ungrounded claims" should be removed from science books--and he insists that Einstein would agree with him.
Jones will lay it all out when he signs Logical Universe, his "layman's handbook for understanding the science, gravity and the inner-workings of the universe." --C.S.
Quick--name one short film made by a woman. You can't? Well, it may be time for you to expand your consciousness. Perhaps several evenings with the Plugged Video Collective, founders of a new local film festival, are in order.
"Plugged is a women's video collective based here in Tucson," says Sarah Hardesty, executive director of Dinnerware Contemporary Arts, the festival's host gallery. "They've been taking entries for about three to four months. It was widely distributed and free to enter, so there's a lot of variety."
Her Shorts, a festival featuring films by female artists from around the globe, brings a variety of videos and their makers to Tucson this weekend. These "shorts," 10 minutes or less in length, will be shown in two 45-minute programs each evening.
The event kicks off with a reception, featuring work by Plugged Video Collective members, from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, May 18.
The first night of international screenings, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, May 19, features a discussion with Cecile Manson, director of The Yellow Butterfly, the story of a 4-year-old girl's escape from a Nazi ghetto.
The second night, beginning at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 20, features Jamie Williams talking about her documentary American Cowgirl, set in the American West.
Sunday's events take place at 2 p.m. at the Treistman Center for New Media, housed in Room 137 of the UA Music Building, 1017 N. Olive Ave. Visiting professor Lucy Petrovich will demonstrate interactive 3-D video and talk about women in the digital arts.
All screenings are free. Call 792-4503 or visit pluggedvideocollective.org. --C.S.