The Irish Are Coming, Among Others.
By Margaret Regan
LAST SUNDAY, IN the vaulted dance studio at Rincon/University High School, complete with wood floors and arty brick walls, the members of Tucson's NEW ARTiculations learned a new move or two.
New York choreographers Max Stone and Jana Hicks led the modern dance company and a few freelance dancers through combinations in the Stone technique, a jazz idiom that emphasizes the transitions between gestures.
"That's where dance is," Hicks told the group, "in the connection between movements. It's like music. Music happens in the space between notes."
The New Yorkers were just the latest in a series of master teachers the little company has brought to town to shake up the local scene. At noontime, the choreographers basked in the desert sun and offered practical advice to the fledgling NEW ART folks, whose most pressing concern was how to get themselves noticed in their hometown. The dancers had gone to the Philadanco concert at Centennial Hall the night before, a fine concert that attracted over 1,500 people, and NEW ART co-founder Leigh Ann Rangel puzzled over how they could get some of that dance audience for themselves.
"Dance anywhere you can," Stone advised. "Schools, old folks' homes."
As it happens, NEW ART has been doing exactly that. If you haven't caught their appearances at, say, Club Congress, you can see their Downtown Saturday Night debut this weekend. They'll perform outdoors in the Ronstadt Transit Center at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 6. On the program will be the new Stone/Hicks piece that's been evolving all this week. Also: a Rangel work performed by 11 Rincon/UHS dance students; co-founder Jennifer Pollack's duet with Nate Dryden; a Pollack solo of Tommy Parlon's "Drift"; and an improvisation structured by Dryden. The final Stone/Hicks master class will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Rincon/UHS, at a cost of $12. For information on this or the regular NEW ART dance classes at 61 E. Congress St., call 622-5018.
NEW ART will not be the only dance company on the scene Saturday night. At 7:30 p.m., dancers from the UA Dance Division will perform at the bus station on a portable dance floor, in a movement collaboration inspired by the various Merged Realities science/art shows at downtown galleries. Southern Arizona Dance Theatre is next up after the UA students. They'll continue the science theme with a kaleidoscope ballet based on calculus and geometry.
Patrons who want to go to a big show on the Philadanco model have another option. One of the elaborate show-bizzy Irish dance companies will be in town all weekend at the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Spirit of the Dance stars Patricia Murray, world Irish dance champion, in a big-chorus show that's more about tap, jazz, ballet and flamenco than it is about the austerity of traditional Irish step dance. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $26.50 to $35.50, available at the TCC box office (791-4266) and Dillard's (1-800-638-4253). But don't forget about the struggling home-town troupes.
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