Regeneration and Renewal

Tenth Street Danceworks vets collaborate with ZUZI for the company's spring concert

ZUZI's spring concert at the Historic YWCA marks a coming home for two Tenth Street Danceworks stalwarts.

Dances by Charlotte Adams, a co-founder of the late, lamented modern dance company, and Kevin Schroder, a troupe dancer and choreographer, will be performed in the space Tenth Streeters renovated into a theater back in the 1980s.

"It's the first time Charlotte has put a piece in this space since Tenth Street was here," says Nanette Robinson, ZUZI's artistic director. "And now Kevin is one of our staff members--he's our volunteer coordinator."

The concert, which will also feature dances by Robinson and other ZUZI dancers, has an appropriate name: Full Circle. (See below for a flamenco concert this week.)

Adams says she's delighted to be staging a dance in the theater once called Studio Y.

"I'm very fond of that space," says Adams by phone from Iowa City, where she's now a tenured professor of dance at the University of Iowa. Five ZUZI dancers--Beth Braun, Wendy Joy, Jennifer Hoefle, Nicole Sanchez and new member Maria Sara Villa--will perform her comic piece "Queen of My Heart."

A spoof about all the "shoulds" our mothers demand of us, the 10-minute work is set to a breezy mélange of old songs: "Mother, Queen of My Heart" by Jimmie Rodgers, the "Merry Widow Waltz" from the Franz Lehár operetta and the old-timey "Bob Lee Junior Blues" by the Memphis Jug Band.

"Chairs are involved. So are playing cards," Adams reports. "The first part is quite dancey. Then there's the manipulation of chairs."

Schroder, who two weeks ago made a cameo appearance onstage with FUNHOUSE movement theater, contributes "Buckets," a dance without music. Performed by Yumi Shirai and Sanchez, it alternates between duets--an "interchange of energy when the partners contact," Robinson says--and solo movements.

Both Schroder and Adams have had significant careers outside of Tucson, pre- and post-Tenth Street. Adams has had her choreography performed around the United States and three times brought her Charlotte Adams and Dancers to dance at New York's prestigious Joyce Soho. In December, she put together a dance by invitation at Dance Theater Workshop in New York; she'll show that piece in the O-T-O concert in Tucson this June.

Schroder danced with the big-time troupes of Merce Cunningham and Lar Lubovitch in New York before coming to Tenth Street. He took a hiatus when the troupe dissolved, but two years ago staged a concert in Tucson of his own choreography.

Known for its humor and intelligence, Tenth Street started up in 1984. Adams, Keith Collea and Thom Lewis (who just announced the formation of his new company, Thom Lewis Dance) opened the first studio on now-vanished 10th Street downtown, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, one block north of Congress. But in just a few years, city leaders demolished the whole tangle of streets to make way for the Ronstadt Transit Center.

The dancers fled tumbling 10th but kept the name, and landed at the Historic YWCA, designed by the pioneering female architect Annie Graham Rockfellow (see "Remembering Rockfellow," Jan. 27, 2000).

"It was a big, empty space," Adams remembers of the room they leased. "We built the theater and the risers. I got the seats donated from El Dorado Theater, which was getting torn down. We built the dance floor and the sound booth."

Despite all the work, Tenth Street lasted at the YWCA only about four years. In 1992, with rents rising, they "became nomads," Adams says, and worked out of Utterback Middle School, the UA dance department and the Ballet Arts studio. After Adams left town, the troupe soldiered on for a while, but "fizzled" by the late 1990s, Adams says.

The theater went through numerous incarnations, hosting Orts Theatre of Dance, Barbea Williams and an array of theater companies, until ZUZI took it over in 1998.

"It's wonderful to know it's back as a dance space," says Adams. ZUZI even has "our old Marley floor."

Adams still spends summers in her Tucson house, and last year, when she took a class with Robinson, Robinson invited her to make a dance on the ZUZI dancers.

"I started the piece at Christmastime in Tucson," Adams says. "Then I came back to Iowa and finished it on the dancers here." Her Iowa dancers debuted the work up in the Great Plains, then Adams returned to Tucson on spring break to put the final touches on its ZUZI incarnation.

Adams can't come back to see "Mother" performed at the YWCA, but Robinson declares that "it's all ready. It will close the show. It's funny and fun."

Performed over two weekends, Full Circle also offers up a premiere by Braun. "Breathe," a dance for nine set to music by David Bowie, the Ahn Trio and Buddy Holly, is based on letters Braun wrote to her late husband, Arthur Miscione, after his death a year ago. Braun dances, along with Amber Eubanks, Alison Hart, Shirai, Sanchez and Joy, and company apprentices Katie Gallardo, Jessie Stewart and Audrey Copeland.

Eubanks turns choreographer in "Honey Calls Me Home," a dance for six to music by Eric Chappelle. Joy contributes "Wanderings," a jazzy quintet set to "Laura's Dream" by Gary Burton.

"The dancers flutter out like figures in a dream," Robinson says. Hoefle, Shirai and Sanchez are the lead dancers, while Braun and Joy "go in and out. It's beautiful movement."

Robinson has a premiere of her own, the timely "Where's My Boy?" Accompanied by John Bormanis, who performs his own music and lyrics live, the duet "explores losses of love, losses from death and war. It's about the memories of boys and men who have touched us deeply," Robinson says. Scott Bird dances with Shirai. "He's her memory, of her lover, husband, brother, father. It's bittersweet."

ZUZI's Many Limbs youth troupe join forces with community members for a big group piece, as yet unnamed. Hart and Robinson helped the 17 kids and volunteer dancers create the movement. The kids, including newest member Molly Stack, choreographed their own trapeze gyrations for the only aerial work in the show. Four mother-daughter pairs are in it, as well as a pair of sisters.

Following up the Full Circle theme, it works with the "image of a tree," Robinson says. "It's about regeneration and renewal."

Flamenco dance lovers can get a discount for their friends at Flamenco Requiem: In Praise of the Earth, an extravaganza of music, choral singing and dance put together by Spanish guitarist Paco Peña. Performed one night only at Centennial Hall, the work uses the structure of the Catholic funeral Mass to combine traditional Andalusian movement and sound (including Peña's live guitar work) with the singing of a classical choir. Nicely timed to be performed here during Earth Week, Flamenco Requiem laments the Earth's environmental degradation.

Audience members buying full-price tickets in Section B--back of the orchestra and on the sides--can bring along a friend for just $10, with some restrictions. The deal is not valid online.

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