SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Two years ago, the police S.W.A.T. team swooped down from the rafters at DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center and carried the Tenth Street Danceworks dancers right off the stage.
Last year, the dancers coolly drove up in a big black Caddy. They did a lot of cavorting in and on and around the car before they finally got around to dancing up on the stage. After the show, they drove slickly off into the night, never once stopping their gyrations on the trunk, on the roof, on the backseat.
So what big surprises are planned for this year's annual outdoor concert?
Charlotte Adams, small, muscular and cheery, squirms a bit in her chair. Actually, she allows, this year there will be no cars, no hunky guys in uniforms. "This concert doesn't have anything ha-ha like the car piece," she says. But it doesn't mean the concert will fall short of its typical fun quotient. For one thing, Adams declares, she personally will "answer the question: can dancers fly?"
"Universal Detail," choreographed by company dancer Chieko Imada, will have Adams perched on a 12-foot-high chair. "It's really high up there! Whoa!" she says, grimacing as she remembers a photo shoot of a few days before. "Luckily I don't get vertigo. I'm like an angel up there above the other dancers. It's wild. It's set to Japanese pop music."
The Reid Park concerts, which Tenth Streeters have been presenting for six or seven years now, are the "most fun concerts we do," Adams says. "People are there for fun."
So the dancers will oblige, in the form of the giant chair piece and in the gospel music piece, wherein an all-star contingent of gospel singers from churches all over Tucson will deliver live vocals for "All in the Name of Love." The Gospel Music Workshop Tucson chapter first joined forces with the dance troupe two years ago for a full-length gospel dance concert. The piece, which Adams choreographed herself, features four dancers performing to the song by George Hawke.
And then there's "Things That Emma Does," a three-part Adams work based on the antics of the young daughter of company dancer Paulette Cauthorn. A fragment of the piece, which Adams calls "funny and touching," was performed at a UA concert last winter. UA student Deborah Birrane, portraying the little girl, begins with a solo. Then Cauthorn, playing the mother, moves in for a duet with Birrane. Like any good mom who can do at least two things at once, Cauthorn speaks while she dances. The work, set to music by Ry Cooder, concludes with a Cauthorn solo.
Other surprises on the six-dance program are a couple of pieces by John M. Wilson, a dance prof at the university. Wilson's known for his interest in world dance, but his "Fear of Falling" is a "modern, lovely challenging piece," Adams said. "It's minimalist and abstract, with images taken from a Franz Kline painting." The other Wilson work is "Waking Dreams," a solo for Adams that's "lush and lyrical."
In some ways, the rest of the Tenth Street Danceworks season will recall last year's. In February, the company will take part in the second annual Contemporary Dance Festival at Pima Community College and in Phoenix, presenting joint concerts with five other modern dance troupes from around the state. The Tenth Streeters' collaboration with Isaacs, McCaleb and Dancers and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra String Quartet last season was so wonderful and relatively so well attended that all three groups will return for a collaborative concert in May.
"We got such a good response," Adams beams. "A good crossover audience too," no small thing for a perpetually struggling modern dance troupe. The next performance for the company will be in November, when the dancers will fold several numbers into a percussion concert at UA Crowder Hall.
Sharing the stage with percussionists and string musicisans and other dance troupes is all part of Adams' longtime mission of creating "artistic collisions." So are the company's close encounters with the gospel singers and the S.W.A.T team.
"The symphony is more of a traditional collision," Adams says. "We don't really have a new weird one. But I'm thinking about it." She pauses. "Maybe weightlifters or football players."
The Tenth Street Danceworks Reid Park concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. The concert is free. Arrive early for good views and bring chairs or a blanket and a picnic dinner. For more information call 791-4079.
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