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State-Line Dancing

Charlotte Adams Hones Her Cross-Country Organizing Skills With Tenth Street Danceworks.


CHARLOTTE ADAMS IS a multi-city gal of late. While living in Iowa City, teaching modern dance as a professor at the University of Iowa, she still manages to keep Tenth Street Danceworks going in her hometown, Tucson. Admittedly, the longtime troupe has been less visible in recent years than it used to be, but it will nevertheless kick off its annual fall concert-in-the park this weekend.

But now a third city is coming into the Adams orbit, and this is the big one: New York.

"I have a show in downtown New York this spring," Adams says excitedly by phone from Iowa. Charlotte Adams and Dancers will perform three evening-long concerts at the Joyce Soho, a downtown offshoot of the midtown Joyce Theatre, a respected dance venue. Adams herself will dance; she plans to bring along dancers from her Iowa student troupe and possibly some from Tucson as well.

"I've always wanted to do something in New York," Adams says, and the doing turned out to be almost as easy and the wanting. "I applied for the season. I was one of 161 (choreographers) applying and 35 were accepted."

The logistics will be formidable, especially for a piece that involves a bathtub. "I'll have to drive the tub to New York," she notes. But Adams by now is used to cross-country dance organizing.

This weekend, she returns to the Old Pueblo for Tenth Street's concert at the DeMeeseter Performance Center in Reid Park, 12 Iowa student dancers in tow. The three-evening series under the stars is a Tucson and an Adams favorite. "I love the park," she says, "and dancing outdoors." In past years, the lively outdoor concerts have featured rappelling members of a SWAT team, and even an automobile fully loaded with dancers.

This year, Adams' loyal hometown followers will get first crack at a new dance she'll be presenting in New York. "Big Bucks for Lulu," a major Adams work for six dancers choreographed to commissioned music by George Hawke, will be a highlight of the three concerts.

"George is a composer I've worked with on and off for several years," Adams says. "He's now in LA, but he was in Dusty Chaps and Los Lasers in Tucson. The music is based on instrumentation and musical styles from Mexico, including waltz and polka."

Ten minutes long, the athletic work "is based on movement ideas of the circus," Adams explains. "It's about turning and balancing, about falling and rolling, about diving. The music has somewhat of the sound of a circus. It's fun and athletic, and quite a feat for the dancers."

All six dancers are local, although only one comes from the depleted ranks of Tenth Street itself, which in the last year has seen the departure of veterans Thom Lewis and Paulette Cauthorn. The Tenth Streeter is Deborah Mendoza, "a young dancer who's worked with us three or four years. She's long and willowy and wonderful," Adams says. The choreographer is borrowing a trio of dancers, Matthew Henley, Charles Thompson and Nicole Buffan, from Orts Theatre of Dance, and another, Tammy Rosen, from NEW ARTiculations. A sixth dancer, Amy Prensky, fills out the sextet.

Chieko Imada, a longtime Tenth Streeter, will dance the Adams solo "The Dreamlife of Crows," a piece Imada debuted at Ballet Arts Ensemble concert last winter. The piece is "based on a Japanese children's song, about a mother crow who leaves her babies beyond the mountains," Adams says. Adams had Japanese native Imada write out the words in Japanese characters, and the choreographer based her movements on the characters' shapes. "It has a sense of longing," she adds. "To me it relates to Chieko leaving Japan. She's lovely in it."

Twelve performers from Dancers in Company, Iowa's touring student troupe, will also take to the stage. The whole dancer's dozen will appear in "The Poetry of Physics," an Adams piece that made it into the National American College Dance Festival earlier this year. It's danced to comic-opera music by Rossini.

Work by Iowa colleagues of Adams round out the program. David Berkey's "February Fall" is a trio set to Rachmaninov; Armando Duarte composed a duet, "Prelude," based on Afternoon of a Faun; Alan Sener's "Couples," a big work featuring four duets, has been newly reset. Brought back after a successful outing in last year's park concert is Sara Semonis's "Rocky Mountain Low," a funny spoken-word piece about a ski trip.

Adams says the concert should dispel the notion that Tenth Street no longer exists. Sidelined by a neck injury that effectively ended his performing career, Lewis went on earlier this year to co-found a new troupe, Funhouse Movement Theatre, with Lee Ann Hartley. Cauthorn moved away. But other performers remain, and there's still give-and-take among the current and the ex-Tenth Streeters, she notes.

"The brotherhood-sisterhood is still going on," Adams says. "Tenth Street still exists. We're having a concert."

Tenth Street Danceworks performs a free modern-dance concert at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22, 23 and 24, at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park. The Country Club Road entrance is the closest to the stage. Audience members are invited to bring chairs, blankets and a picnic supper.

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