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Arts Galore 

Two dance concerts highlight a weekend chock-a-block in arts events

There's almost too much going on this weekend in the Busy Pueblo.

There are two important art events—a reception at 6 p.m. Saturday at Davis Dominguez shows off figure work by three women, Bailey Doogan, Judith Stewart and Jan Olsson; and at Etherton, Saturday is the last day for the exhibition Land Re-Form, with photos by Mark Klett, Frank Gohlke and Michael Berman.

Irish music fans will be celebrating at the Altan concert Saturday night at the Fox Theatre, and stepping out at the St. Patrick's Day Irish Parade and Festival downtown on Sunday. The Irish play The Beauty Queen of Leenane closes Sunday at Rogue Theatre.

Dance also has a big part in the weekend mix.

Ballet Tucson, now in its 34th season, will stage its Dance & Dessert concert Friday through Sunday, for the first time performing the cherished Balanchine Concerto Barocco. (See details below.)

ZUZI! Dance No Frills Dance Happenin' is happening at 7:30 p.m., Friday and 2 p.m., Saturday. This popular showcase offers up dances by new and experienced choreographers. Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre, 738 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets $7 to $12 at the door; $10 online at zuzimoveit.org.

a new-ish and very welcome

contemporary dance troupe, Hawkinsdance, is mounting a free concert early Saturday evening at Reid Park.

"We do contemporary dance anchored in modern and jazz technique," founder Shelley Hawkins says. "Not so much ballet, but ballet is in my body. I grew up dancing."

Hawkins left Colorado for Arizona to study at the UA's School of Dance and after getting her BFA she sailed the seas dancing on a cruise ship. She later performed with Artifact, a local contemporary troupe that shut down last spring, even traveling with them on a dance tour in China.

Eventually Hawkins returned to the university to get her MFA. Shortly after, in 2017, she launched her namesake troupe Hawkinsdance.

Since then, the troupe has popped up in such unexpected places at the JCC sculpture garden and the Tucson Museum of Art.

"Our first performance was at TMA," Hawkins says.

The dancers performed at the museum's community events in October 2017, and the next year they danced among the paintings and installations in the Arizona Biennial show.

In 2019, Hawkins orchestrated a full concert at Scoundrel & Scamp to a sold-out house; the troupe has thrice performed in the competitive Breaking Ground Festival for contemporary dance in Tempe.

Now the troupe is prepared to present itself to le tout Tucson at the free outdoor concert in the park.

For the show, Pleiades Dance Concert in the Park, Hawkins created two new dances. Her innovative "Sunrise to Sunrise" enlists 12 dancers divided into two groups. The two teams will actually perform two different dances—they've even been rehearsing separately—but eventually will intermingle on the stage.

Another, darker work is set in a "post-apocalyptic landscape" and the six women who dance it "confront fear and loss."

Hawkins also has lined up a crew of 11 impressive guest choreographers, some of whom will bring their own dancers. One is Charlotte Adams, a respected choreographer who danced in the beloved 10th Street Danceworks company in Tucson years ago. (Adams will participate in a 10th Street reunion concert in June.)

Recently retired as a prof at the University of Iowa, Adams is back in Tucson. Her new work, commissioned for the show, is "a crazy partner duet," Hawkins says. "It will close the show."

Todd Wilson of Tucson's Break-Out Studios, another guest choreographer, created a "large group dance with his own dancers." A number of Hawkinsdance performers will also present their own choreography.

Hawkins has lofty ambitions for the troupe. Next up is a full-scale concert, Kinship, at Berger Performing Arts Center April 17 to 19. The venue, with 496 seats, is "a big step for us," she says. The concert will also screen Moon Room, her video dance project featuring six short solos.

Meantime, she sees the park concert, with its gaggle of choreographers, as a "seed to grow into a bigger festival of dance," right here in Tucson.

Pleiades Dance Concert in the Park is at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 14, at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center in Reid Park, at Country Club and 22nd St. Bring blankets, chairs and picnic foods. Free. Company requests that attendees RSVP to hawkinsdance.org

Dances by the divine

Balanchine have come fast and furious at Ballet Tucson this year. The troupe aced his lovely 1934 Serenade at the winter concert, deploying more than 20 ballerinas in pale blue at once. It was the second time the company performed this neoclassic ballet, the first that the Russian-born choreographer made in America.

The spring concert this weekend, Dance & Desert, will mark Ballet Tucson's first performance of Concerto Barocco from 1941. Another beloved Balanchine dance, this one has 10 women and one man dancing to Bach's Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins. The movements of the two lead ballerinas echo Bach's two violins, reflecting Balanchine's oft-quoted saying, "See the music, hear the dance."

The 20-minute work is "extremely musical," says Mary Beth Cabana, the company's artistic director. "What could be better than Balanchine, ballet and Bach?"

The work has been triple-cast to allow almost all the women in the company to perform it, with Taylor Johnson, Shannon Quirk, Danielle Cesanek and Molly Huempfner alternating the lead roles. Charles Clark, Vasily Boldin and Jared Kelly share the part of the one man.

Prima ballerina Jenna Johnson is not in Concerto Barocco: she's saving her energy for Gemini, a mythic dance created by ballet master Daniel Precup, Johnson's husband. His 2016 work is based on the Greek myth of Castor and Pollux, twins who turned into the constellation Gemini. Clark and Boldin also dance in the large piece.

Among the shorter dances is Sam Watson's humous "Sound Effects" and company dancer Jennifer Holoubek's prize-winning "La Terre Vue du Ciel or Earth from Above." The large group dance won first place last November in Footprints at the Fox, an annual showcase that allows company dancers to present their own choreography.

The show isn't named Dance & Desert for nothing. After the last curtain, audience members and dancers alike dive into cornucopias of free cookies and cakes donated by local bakeries.

Dance & Dessert is at 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 12; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 14; and 1 p.m. Sunday, March 15, at Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on the UA campus, 1713 E. University Blvd. Tickets $45 general; $40 seniors/students/military. Tickets online at ballettucson.org and by phone at 800-838-3006.

More by Margaret Regan

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