Suite Surprises

From Modern Dance To Holiday Classics, A Look At November Performances.

DECEMBER'S SPATE OF Nutcrackers is still a few weeks away, and November offers a welcome cornucopia of styles performed by local and visiting dancers. This weekend alone offers up three concerts covering modern, ballet and jazz, as well as dance theatre drawing on African sources.

On Friday, November 19, David Roussève/REALITY comes to Centennial Hall in the first modern dance concert of the UApresents season. His evening-long work, Love Songs, mixes dance with performance art, and African-American traditions with contemporary pop culture. Likewise, its story layers a tale of two African slaves in 18th century America with a modern tale of hard times in an American inner city. And in a final bit of genre-jumping, Roussève sets the piece to operatic music by Puccini and Wagner, and instrumental music by Chopin.

The show starts at 8 p.m. at UA Centennial Hall, inside the main gate east of Park Avenue. A group of local dancers recruited at an open audition last week joins the visiting pros on stage. Tickets are $16 to $28, with discounts available for UA faculty and staff and UApresents season subscribers; kids and students with I.D. get half-off. For info call 621-3341.

Friday through Sunday, Tucson's own Orts Theatre of Dance presents Intimate Spaces, a concert of duets, trios and quartets, danced on the floor and in the air, via trapeze. Company artistic director Anne Bunker and Chuck Koesters collaborated on a premiere, "Balanced Edge," an aerial group piece that figuratively transforms the dancers into sculpture. Koesters' original music accompanies the work. Flor de Liz Alzate choreographed a new duet, "Strings Attached," which she dances with Charles Thompson, fresh from his mesmerizing role in last month's Rapture Rumi.

Bunker reprises her "Speaking Places," which sends three dancers -- Bunker herself, Alzate and Mimi Chen -- through projected images of Scotland. Chen dances with Matthew Henley in "Haiku 1," a short duet by Katherine Harts that was seen at the Zenith choreographers' showcase last month. Thompson joins Bunker for a comical satire of married life, "Do Us Part," a piece of the Orts repertory that hasn't been seen on stage in years. Composed by Jan Justice, the tart work is set to the traditional wedding march; its movement, though, is not exactly a stately procession. It's more along the lines of the wife standing on the calves of a fallen man dragging himself along the floor.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 19 and 20, and 2 p.m. Sunday, November 21, at the PCC Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $8 and $10 in advance at Bentley's, Antigone Books, Silverbell Trading and the box office, and $2 more the day of the show. For information or reservations, call Orts at 624-3799, or e-mail them at

The students of the UA Dance Ensemble perform an early holiday show, In the Season, at the Ina Gittings Dance Theater, Thursday through Saturday. The concert of short works, composed by faculty and students, lasts just one hour and 15 minutes. "Rodrigo," a modern choreographer's take on folklorico, opens the show. Prof. Amy Ernst debuted this charming group work at last month's Noche de Baile y Opera. A Spanish ballet danced in that evening's opera segment, La Vida Breve, will be dance on pointe. Professors Melissa Lowe and Jory Hancock choreographed the piece.

Sam Watson contributes "The Big Put-On," a tongue-in-cheek modern piece that he dances himself. Prof. Michael Williams offers up the jazzy "Scat," while colleague Nina Janik presents a "jazzy romp" danced in bowler hats, as yet untitled. Dances by profs Susan Quinn and John Wilson will alternate at the concerts. Quinn's "St. Teresa," which department head Hancock calls a "really beautiful piece for three women," will be performed Thursday and Saturday nights. Wilson's " Blue," a solo for student Molly Coffman, is scheduled for the Friday evening show and the Saturday matinee. Undergrads Michael Rioux and Joanna Zepeda also debut their compositions.

Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, November 18 through 20, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee, at the Ina Gittings Dance Theatre, on the UA Mall west of Campbell Avenue. Tickets are $9 general, $7 for students and seniors. For details, call 621-4698.

Thanksgiving weekend provides a preview of the Nutcrackers to come. Getting the jump on rival troupes, Arizona Dance Collective performs "Nutcracker Fantasy," a condensed version of Clara's dream choreographed by company director Jane Matty Willett. Set to excerpts from Tchaikovsky's score, the short form includes Clara's journey into the land of sweets, complete with dancing candies and Russian acrobats. Also on the program is "Petrushka," staged by Willett, Richard Holden and P.J. Mann. Their version of the 1911 ballet, based on a Russian tale of three puppets brought to life, is danced to the music of Stravinsky.

Troupe members include both children and adults. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, November 26 and 27; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28, at the PCC Center for the Arts, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Advance tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and children under 12, and available at Dance Visions and the PCC box office. They'll be $1 more at the door. For information, call Dance Visions at 887-2085, visit the website at www., or call the PCC box office at 206-6988.

And finally, just making it into our November list, is Riverdance, that wildly popular show-biz translation of Irish traditional dance and music. The international troupe descends on Centennial Hall for nearly a full week, from Tuesday, November 30, to Sunday, December 5; show times vary. Tickets range from $40 to $50 for weekday shows, $46 to $56 for weekend performances; there are no discounts available. Call the Centennial Hall box office at 621-3341 for details.

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