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Dancing the Mural

Safos celebrates South Tucson history with latest project

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This Friday and Saturday

night, you can catch dancer Yvonne Montoya soaring above a 1965 Chevy Truck in the front yard of South Tucson's House of Neighborly Service.

Or watch other performers from Montoya's Safos Dance Theatre dance with jets of water.

Both dances commemorate memorable events on the southside. The water represents the Old Pueblo's first integrated swimming pool, located at the House of Neighborly Service. And that retro Chevy? It memorializes the days when nearby South Sixth Avenue was the king of calles for cruising.

The outdoor concert of modern dance and live music—courtesy of pianist Jordane Lafitte, guitarist Eugene Shem and visiting French horn player Armando Castellano of San Jose's Quinteto Latino – celebrates more than South Tucson history.

"Dancing the Mural" is the endpoint of a two-year community project to create a mural at the House of Neighborly Service, a dynamic 67-year-old center that offers up after-school care, senior programs, immigrant rights sessions, folklorico dance and more.

In 2013, several hundred local residents voted on the mural's theme, settling on the heritage of a neighborhood that's 83 percent Hispanic and 10 percent Native American. Since then, some 300 aspiring community painters, along with dancers from Safos, have wielded brushes loaded with crayon-bright paints to depict the square-mile city's milestones. Along the way, the Safos dancers did a performance or two in the garden, dancing not with water but with very wet paint.

This weekend, at the concerts, the dry mural will be unveiled—along with no fewer than seven new Safos dances.

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