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Tucson: Science/Tech Mecca?

Science in the City

2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18

Various locations in downtown Tucson

Science and technology will be the focus in downtown Tucson on Saturday, with about 20 businesses and organizations participating in interactive discussions and demonstrations on the science behind things as diverse as music and hairstyling.

For instance, a demonstration at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails will focus on making the "coolest" food in the world, and O2 Modern Fitness aims to appeal to bike-riders with a discussion on how to achieve optimum pedal-stroke efficiency.

Science Downtown will have free exhibits in its courtyard, and admission to the Children's Museum Tucson will be free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Joel D. Valdez Main Library and Interactive Park (on Congress Street between Scott and Stone avenues) are among the other venues with interactive and innovative events.

Science lovers can stop by City High School to see science projects made by K-12 students, and scientific organizations such the BIO5 Institute and UA Science and Technology Park will have exhibits downtown.

"One of our main features is to have the schools showcase their science and engineering projects," said Don Ruedy of the Arizona Technology Council.

Science in the City is presented by 2nd Saturdays and is one of the many events in the Arizona SCITECH Festival, a statewide celebration of science and technology.

Ruedy said the idea for Science in the City came from discussions with former Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup.

"He suggested something like this, because they're trying to (show) how important science and technology is to the community and to help the awareness of how much science is going on in Tucson," Ruedy said. "Actually, they're trying to coin Tucson as a 'science city.'"

Most aspects of the event are free. —A.N.


All That Jazz (and More)

New York Voices in concert

7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17

Crowder Hall

UA School of Music

1017 N. Olive Road

621-1162

For 24 years, the members of New York Voices have brought their style of jazz-singing to audiences around the world—and this week, they're coming to Tucson for the first time.

The Grammy Award-winning vocal quartet consists of Darmon Meader, Lauren Kinhan, Peter Eldridge and Kim Nazarian. Backing them up are Klaus Mueller on piano, Ike Sturm on bass and Marcello Pellitteri on drums.

"I love the interaction of having four people carrying that sound and that energy," Meader said. "I just like the collective spirit behind it. All four of us feel that way. That's one of the things that I think kept the band going for this long."

The group will perform a mixture of jazz standards, contemporary music, Brazilian music, singer-songwriter based songs and more. The program may include songs by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder or Paul Simon—sung in four-part harmony, Meader said.

"People think of jazz as being a very improvised art form, and it is," Meader said, adding that New York Voices "use improvisation to a large degree."

Members of the quartet also write songs, with most of their original work arranged by Meader. Much of their music comes directly from big-band styles, he said. Whether done individually or collectively, "all of the music is written by the group," he said.

New York Voices has made seven studio albums and has also been involved extensively in education outreach.

Meader said that after 24 years, the quartet is still willing to put up with life on the road, including "hanging out at airports at all hours," because the response from the audience is worth it.

"For the most part, I think people walk away pretty enthusiastic," he said.

Tickets are $25. —M.W.


Steps in Space

The Astro Dance Project

8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, Feb. 25

Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

1601 E. University Blvd.

(800) 838-3006 (tickets)

Dance. Live music. Art. Science. These are the components that Desirée Dunbar, 37, chose to include in the project that became the thesis for her master's degree in fine arts.

"I think it's just an exciting mix of music and dance in a very unusual space," Dunbar said of her upcoming show at the UA Flandrau Science Center. "It's pushing the boundaries of what we think of as a traditional dance concert."

Dunbar said the performance consists of one continuous 55-minute piece. It is a collaborative effort combining eight dancers, five musicians, astronomy photography and stage design. The music for the show was composed by Elliot Vaughan, and one of the musicians performing is Patrick Neher, a renowned classical bass player.

The performance is about creating an "internal universe," which refers to "going inside ourselves to get a better understanding of who we are," Dunbar said. She is using the sky, and its stars and galaxies "as a metaphor for that internal universe."

To create the visuals, astronomy images that correspond with Dunbar's choreography will be projected behind the dancers.

Dunbar, who said she has been dancing all her life, is "changing hats" from dancer and interpreter to choreographer.

"I use a lot of improvisation," Dunbar said. There's also a lot of "movement and individuality that comes through based on your own impulses, and then my concept."

Dunbar's roots are in contemporary dance and classical ballet. "That shines through in my choreography," she said. "It has a very organic kind of form as well."

Unlike many dance productions, this show will allow the audience to sit around the stage and get a close-up view of the dancers.

Tickets are $10. —M.W.


Celebrate Your Inner Cowboy

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros

Opens 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18; continues through Sunday, Feb. 26

Tucson Rodeo Grounds

4823 S. Sixth Ave.

741-2233

Real cowboys still exist in the Wild West, and hundreds of them will be in Tucson for the 87th annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros, aka the Tucson's Rodeo, which is expected to draw more than 50,000 people.

Although professional rodeo cowboys take the event very seriously, the No. 1 reason attendees come is to have fun doing something different with friends and family, said Joan Liess, the rodeo's publicity director. They come for the "old-fashioned Americana, Western heritage," Liess said, "very different than what people experience in their daily lives."

Before the professionals get to work, a few select kids from 4 to 6 years old will get their turn in the spotlight on opening day with "mutton-busting." It essentially involves holding on to a sheep that wants no part of the child. "They literally cling to the sheep ... and they hang on for dear life," Liess said.

This year also marks the Tucson debut of rodeo clown CrAsh Cooper, whose job includes distracting bulls after they have thrown off their riders, and entertaining the crowd with jokes between events. "Rodeo clowns are sort of an icon of the rodeo," Liess said.

Liess said the most-popular rodeo event is bull-riding, followed by women's barrel-racing.

In barrel-racing, contestants on horseback ride in a clover-leaf pattern around barrels placed in the arena. The rider with the fastest time wins.

The goal in bull-riding is to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, with up to 100 points awarded for the ride.

Liess said the Tucson rodeo is one of the Top 25 professional rodeos in North America.

"People don't realize we're up there in the rodeo-sports world," she said.

Tickets start at $12. —A.N.

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