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Mistle Toes

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THE LAST WEEKEND before Christmas brings a trio of dance concerts flush with the holiday spirit. One troupe celebrates the winter solstice in modern dance, another tells a colorful tale of ancient India in ballet, and the third offers up the season's final Nutcracker.

ZUZI! Move It Dance Company, the latest of Tucson's myriad troupes, is a hybrid group with members who've danced variously with Orts Theatre of Dance, Zenith Dance Collective, NEW ARTiculations and 10th Street Danceworks. Co-founder Nanette Robinson is an Orts alumna, adept at aerial trapeze; Nathan Dryden likewise has often been seen dancing mid-air with Orts. Co-founder Nancy Mellan, a dancer-choreographer who teaches at Pima College, does movement work in the community as well. The name they gave their troupe is the Hebrew word for "move it."

ZUZI! Move It now has moved itself into the old Historic YWCA Theatre at Fifth Avenue and University Boulevard. Renovated a couple of years ago by Orts Theatre of Dance, the congenial theatre was then briefly occupied by Millennium Theatre Company; after that, it went fallow. ZUZI has commendably returned it to an arts use, converting it into teaching, rehearsal and performance space.

The company inaugurates its new space this weekend with A Solstice Celebration, a performance of dance, poetry and music. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 18 and 19, at the Historic YWCA Theatre, 738 Fifth Ave. Tickets are $10 general, $7 for seniors and students. For more information, call 887-1603.

Instead of celebrating winter, A Time to Dance Studio hotfoots it to hotter climes in The Maharajah's Wedding, an original ballet choreographed by artistic director Dee Dee Doell. The company's child and teen dancers, decked out in colorful Asian silks and harem pants, dance the love story of an Indian prince and princess. Pirates, goblins and a magic amulet are all part of the exotic brew.

The company's sixth annual Christmas concert, The Maharajah's Wedding, begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, December 18, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Suggested donation is $5. For more information, call 327-5137 or 320-1566.

Dance lovers who have managed to miss every one of The Nutcracker productions that already filled Tucson stages this month have one last chance. Ballet Arts always reserves the final weekend before Christmas for its version of the beloved holiday classic, set to the familiar Tchaikovsky score. The studio's rigorously trained young dancers (and some of their parents) perform in artistic director Mary Beth Cabana's traditional staging, complete with Victorian costumes, snowfall and elaborate painted backdrops.

Ballet Arts performs The Nutcracker in the Proscenium Theatre of the PCC Center for the Arts, 2202 Anklam Road. Curtain is at 7 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December 17 through 19. Tickets are $18. For information call 623-3373.

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