City Week

Little Steps

Academia de Baile Dance Recital

6:30 to 9 p.m., Saturday, June 23

Tucson Convention Center Music Hall

260 S. Church Ave.


After countless practices and hours of preparation, Academia de Baile Tradicion y Cultura is presenting its 11th annual end-of-the-school-year dance recital.

Academia de Baile is a nonprofit organization that has been around for 11 years, teaching dancers ages 4 and up. Dances taught range from traditional Mexican folklórico to flamenco, tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop.

Marthita Farrell, assistant director at Academia, has been at the studio working with students of various ages since the beginning.

"It's amazing to see the confidence they've built throughout the year, especially with the little ones," Farrell said. "When they came in, at the very beginning, they were extremely shy, and now they act like they own the place, ready to dance and ready to go."

The theme for this year's performance will be a cruise ship, with musical numbers incorporating a variety of dance styles. About 120 dancers, from preschoolers to high school grads, will participate.

Carolina Lee, director of Academia Baile, said it is a treat to watch girls of all different ages onstage.

"We see them grow, and we see them become more outgoing throughout the year," Lee said. "I always look forward to the girls having a good experience and really just having a good time onstage; they work so hard, and they are really proud of their dances."

Farrell said she appreciates the families who come out to support them.

"We truly enjoy seeing new and familiar faces every year at the recital," she said. "It is like a family reunion ... and it truly is a wonderful event."

The event is free. For more information, write —R.C.

The Power of Water


1 to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through Saturday, July 21

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery and Workshop

218 E. Sixth St.


Need a break from 100-degree days and blue skies? Well, you can get a taste of what's coming at Raices Taller, which is holding its annual monsoon-themed exhibition, ¡Chubasco!

The nonprofit Raices Taller describes itself as Tucson's only Latino-based nonprofit art gallery and workshop. Its goal is to promote the art created by its wide range of members.

"We started off as just a group of artists looking for a space to exhibit artwork, and a workshop space," said John Salgado, one of the founding members of the gallery. "Initially, we were just a small group, but the membership has changed throughout the years."

This year, the exhibit features 91 pieces, ranging from paintings to sculptures to photography to mixed media.

Tom Greyeyes, a Navajo artist, has a piece addressing water issues in Arizona. The Navajo Nation is currently involved in a dispute about the use of water from the Colorado River basin. In his painting, "Water Is Power," a woman is dressed in traditional Navajo clothing, with protest signs in the background.

"Her dress is supposed to look like water and be a part of her, almost like the body or the person itself is connected to water," Greyeyes said. "I added the protest images, because I want people to see that native people are struggling with this issue, but also that we are not just sitting down and doing nothing about it."

All of the pieces in the exhibition deal with water in one way or another, Salgado said.

The show "always comes at the hottest part of the year," he said. "You walk into the gallery, and everything is water-themed. ... It's a great exhibit, and everyone should come out and see it."

Admission is free. —R.C.

Educational Entertainment

Dancing With the Animals

2 p.m., Tuesday, June 26

Oro Valley Public Library

1305 W. Naranja Drive


If you're a fan of the show Dancing With the Stars, and you like animals, here's an entertaining event designed to appeal to the whole family.

In Dancing With the Animals, the Tohono Chul Desert Players will play dancing animals. The aim is to entertain while informing people about the Sonoran Desert. The players perform at various public libraries and have been putting on shows for more than a decade, said Jo Falls, the director of education at Tohono Chul Park.

"It's a great activity for people to come out and learn," Falls said. "We also want to encourage people to use their local library."

The Tohono Chul Desert Players consists of volunteers from Tohono Chul Park. They make their own costumes and write their own scripts, Falls said.

Barbara Pepper, director of the group, said she has been a volunteer at the park for more than 20 years and has a passion for teaching kids about the Sonoran Desert.

"And if you can do that with music and laughter, that makes a big difference," Pepper said. "We want children to respect the desert."

Characters such as "Gordo the Javelina" and "Wiley Coyote" are featured in the show. The audience can select their favorite animal couple by using a "dance-o-meter" to determine whether the dancers have "two left feet" or are performing well. As the players perform, an emcee offers information about the animals, Falls said.

"There are little tidbits of natural history that get added," Falls said.

There is also a craft activity for kids. The hour-long show ends with audience members voting for their favorite dancing couple.

Admission is free, but tickets—handed out a half-hour before the program's start—are needed. — H.M.

Forbidden Love That Rocks

Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida

7 p.m., Thursday, June 28, and Friday, June 29

Sahuaro High School Auditorium

545 N. Camino Seco Road


Aida is the epic tale of forbidden love between an enslaved Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier. When forced to choose between perishing together or parting ways, the couple opt for death, showing what it means to truly love someone.

Originally a Verdi opera, Aida was revamped as a rock musical by Elton John and Tim Rice in the late-'90s.

Arts Express and the Fine Arts Youth Academy will perform two shows of the adapted love story—and "people will be blown away" by the kids' talent, promised Shaunna Kowalewski, community relations director at Arts Express.

"It's a great story," Kowalewski said. "There's a love triangle, but it's not one that's bitter. The characters have a lot of depth to them."

The cast consists of 19 high school students, most of whom have a background in musical theater, Kowalewski said.

"We didn't want to choose an easy, simple musical," she said. Because the students show so much promise, "we really wanted to challenge them. This is a particularly hard rock opera to perform."

High school sophomore Emily Garcia will play the role of Aida. Garcia said that the most difficult part of the musical has been "channeling the emotions," but that she has loved "learning all the music and being able to portray such an important character."

Not only did students have to master challenging songs; they also were immersed in all aspects of production, including creating the costumes, props and set for the show.

Tickets are $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors, students and military personnel. They can be purchased at —H.M.

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