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Diverse Night of Dance

Creative Dance Arts and Arizona Dance Theatre's 23rd Annual Summer Dance Concert, June 9 & 10

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With reality dance shows like Dance Moms gaining in popularity, it seems like the American public has never been more fascinated by the world of dance.

While these TV shows are undeniably entertaining, it's often because of the catty drama and squabbles among dancers (or their mothers)—not the actual dancing. So if you like dance sans drama, or if you just like to see flourishing young talent, there's a show in store for you.

Creative Dance Arts and Arizona Dance Theatre will present the 23rd Annual Summer Dance Concert on June 9 and 10. The show will feature more than 300 dancers, ranging from 3-years-old to adults.

Lauren Baquet, assistant director of Creative Dance Arts and Arizona Dance Theatre since 2005, said that she's enthused about the concert.

"We have a great ballet program, but also fun, intense jazz and hip hop," Baquet said. "We do The Nutcracker; we do parts from classical ballets ... but I'm excited for people to see how strong our program is, and just how diverse we are."

Dance styles that will be featured in the show include ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop and flamenco.

Creative Dance Arts, which has been in Tucson since 1989, is home to Arizona Dance Theatre, a semiprofessional, nonprofit student company that was established in 2002. Directed by Kandis Meinel, Arizona Dance Theatre is designed for young people who are serious about excelling in dance. Dancers must audition for a spot in the company, and those selected have the opportunity to perform alongside seasoned guest artists at performances in Tucson and the Phoenix area.

Baquet said the dancers of Creative Dance Arts and Arizona Dance Theatre have been working hard all year to prepare for this performance. They focused on technique and endurance for the first half of the year, and went to work on choreography when classes resumed in January, Baquet said.

"They've put a lot of time and effort in," Baquet said.

Dances that Baquet said she's eager to see are pieces set to "Spring" from Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and a variation from Act 1, Scene 3 of the ballet Raymonda.

Raymonda, which was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and first performed in 1898, has a slightly confusing story line. However, dance schools often perform variations from it, because it provides soloists with an opportunity to show off a wide variety of styles.

Vivaldi's "Spring" will sound familiar to many people, even if the listeners have never heard of the Italian composer. Bright and bubbly, then somber and sweet, then bold and beautiful, and ending on an excitedly happy note, the music creates many opportunities for colorful and creative choreography.

Members of the Tucson Elite Dance Company will also make a special appearance. Founded in 2010 by Baquet, Meinel and Creative Dance Arts instructor Melanie Hufford, the company consists of college-age dancers and dance teachers in Tucson. Baquet described the dancers in the company as "an elite group above the age of 18," and said that they do local concerts and benefit shows.

One of the benefits was held in March in honor of Rebecca Katz, a young Tucson woman who died two years ago, Baquet said. According to her obituary, Katz loved literature. Proceeds from the benefit went to the Rebecca Katz Youth Library at Temple Emanu-El, on Country Club Road.

"The dancers are from different studios all over town," Baquet said of Tucson Elite Dance Company. "It brings the whole community together."

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