Each company is performing both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend. NEW ART is putting on a full-fledged dance concert, Wings, at the Pima College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre, and Orts will stage Interior Surfaces, an evening of "collaborative performance works," ranging from dance to poetry to drumming, at its Ortspace studio.
But this time around the companies are capitalizing on the clash by offering discount tickets to dance lovers who go to both shows.
"If you go Friday night, you pay the full price," explains NEW ART co-artistic director Tammy Rosen. "Then Saturday night, you get half-price." Concertgoers can choose the order of the shows, attending, say, Orts on Friday and NEW ART on Saturday, or the opposite. "Hold onto your ticket from the Friday night show," advises Orts artistic director Annie Bunker. That stub is your ticket to a discount.
The welcome cooperation between two of Tucson's leading modern dance troupes is a sign of more to come, Rosen says. Along with Zuzi Move It Dance Theatre and Funhouse Movement Theater, NEW ART and Orts just received a $10,000 grant from the Arizona Community Foundation to help with building their audiences. The four troupes will hire a consultant to advise them on marketing, publish a joint brochure that details all their shows for the 2003-2004 season and use whatever money is left for their own ventures.
"It's exciting," notes Rosen, and likely will prevent future scheduling conflicts.
The NEW ART concert carries out the Wings theme with an excerpt from last summer's Sky, composed by guest artist Jane Hawley, and two flights of fancy by Rosen that bookend the concert. Rosen's opening piece asks, "If you could have wings, what would you do with them?" Inspired by a "cool poem" by Susan Stewart, the flying dancers take on the challenge of speaking lines of poetry while they soar, Rosen says. Dressed in floaty nude-colored slips, co-artistic director Leigh Ann Rangel and NEW ART dancer Kelly Silliman perform the opening duet. They're joined for the companion piece, "That I Might Fly Away," at concert's end by dancers Melissa Crago, Nate Dryden, April Greengaard, and Heather Haeger.
Rangel premieres a major piece, Southern Comfort, which she showed as a work in progress last November. Danced to the rough-and-tumble music of Janis Joplin and Tom Waits, it's divided into three parts. "Straight Up," danced by Margaret Evans, Amanda Stevenson and Rosen, is "hot, sticky and sultry," Rosen says. "Mixed" adds three more dancers, Laurie Berg, Haeger and Dryden, and the "energy picks up." For the finale, "On the Rocks," Rosen and Dryden do a break-up duet to "Ball and Chain." Southern Comfort is the "only piece I'm dancing in," Rosen notes, "but at 17 minutes it really tires me out!"
Also on the program are "Liminal," a duet to the strains of Björk in which Berg tap-dances and Stevenson does modern dance. Greengaard dances in "Origin," her own work about motherhood; the piece also features Silliman and her baby, Rosalie, born last Mother's Day. Continuing the flight theme, 10 dancers will preview a short fragment of The Firebird, which Silliman has been choreographing for an expected debut in June. Dancing along with their elders will be the five members of the company's new youth ensemble.
OVER AT ORTS, Interior Surfaces makes good use of the cavernous rooms of the Ortspace warehouse. The dancers will be sharing the two large studios with an assortment of performing artists, including the Bad Girl Storytelling Brigade, poet Richard Tavenner, singer Cantrell Maryott and visual artist Ellen McMahon. The Ortsers and guest dancers will move across the floor and through the air on their trapezes.
"It's a whole collection of artists and pieces being performed," Bunker says. But because of space concerns, "the audience will be limited to no more than 120."
The show opens with Odaiko Sonora, a kodo drumming group, in the west studios. Then the audience splits in two, with half the people heading to the east studio and half remaining behind. The performances will go on simultaneously in both spaces, and at intermission the audience will switch studios, so everybody gets to see everything.
Despite the concert's genre-jumping, the evening still offers plenty of dance. "Small Holes" is a collaboration about motherhood by McMahon, Bunker and video artist Chuck Koesters.
"Ellen showed me her slides, and I gravitated toward the images of holes and sieves," Bunker reports. "Children are born from our bodies, but from the minute they're born we're letting go. We're like a sieve."
McMahon's slides will be projected onto the walls and onto the dancers, who represent three ages of woman: 17-year-old Alice Wilsey (McMahon's daughter), 20-something Katie Rutterer and 40-something Patti Lopez. The collaborators expect eventually to stretch this piece into a longer work, Bunker says.
A former Orts dancer turned landscape architect, Caryl Clement, returns to the dance fold with her solo "Days Go By ... Endlessly." Clement dances to music by Laurie Anderson; Maryott, billed as a "vocal florist," sings over the Anderson recording. Virtuoso Orts dancer Charles Thompson swings on the trapeze in "Sham's Solo," a fragment of the larger Rapture Rumi by Robert Davidson. Bunker joins Thompson on the traps in "Ave Maria," another Davidson work. Deborah Feldman, an independent artist who dances with several local companies, solos in her "All Bright." Claire Hancock, a UA dance student, reprises "Ozone," a video-dance work that debuted in the university's December concert. Fellow UA student Kevin Hermann stages an "athletic, dynamic, high-energy" duet called "II."
Rutterer choreographed a quartet for herself and fellow Ortsers Amy Knoke, Thompson and apprentice Max Foster. Thompson returns the favor with "Onadare," a quartet for the same four dancers.
Poet Tavenner reads from a collection of his shorter poems, while Bunker dances to his spoken words. The piece is divided into seven parts, Bunker says, and calls for audience members to replace her in the performance space by the end. Bradley W. Pattison, whose paintings are now on view at Etherton Gallery, and Paul Fisher undertake the theatrical piece "Dead Men Talking." In counterpoint, the Bad Girl Storytelling Brigade, consisting of Bad Girls Karen Falkenstrom, To-Ree-Nee Wolf Keiser, Mitzi Cowell and Maryott, delivers "Hormonal Blasphemy."