A dream-inspired piece leads the way at O-T-O's
'Soaring Into Spring' show
Dargan, a leading didgeridoo musician, never learned of his Aboriginal
roots until the age of 22.
Adopted as a child, Dargan says, "I was raised on Australia's East
Coast, in Queensland. I grew up there, not knowing about my past. The
government wouldn't allow adopted children to get information about their
parents. I didn't know I was part Aborigine."
But when that law changed, Dargan headed for North Australia, the
ancestral homeland of the Larrakia Nation. He was able to reunite with his
birth relatives, and they gave him more than the gift of a second family:
His newfound grandmother and great-uncle introduced him to the didgeridoo,
the "cultural instrument" of his people.
"I fell in love with it," says Dargan, who had trained on the trumpet
since the age of 8. "I've been playing it now for 12 years."
This weekend, Dargan, for the first time, combines his didgeridoo music
with modern dance, in a collaborative concert at Stevie Eller Dance
Theatre with Tucson's O-T-O Dance. Native Australians never developed a
skin drum, he says, thus the didgeridoo is the percussive instrument for
Aboriginal traditional dance. Paired with the more deliberate movements of
modern dance, Dargan says, "It's going to be great!"
The Aussie came to the United States to compose music for a play in
Boulder, Colo., and when he ducked over to a Native American flute
festival in New Mexico last summer, he met up with O-T-O's Annie Bunker
and Chuck Koesters. The three tossed around ideas for a didgeridoo dance,
but it was not until four weeks later, when Bunker had a portentous dream,
that the deal was sealed.
"In the dream, I was walking out the back door" (of the Sonoran Desert
home she shares with her husband, Koesters), Bunker relates. "A
rattlesnake was curled there. It started morphing into another shape. I
In the dream, Koesters--as well as a dream Dargan--began running toward
her. By the time all three converged, the snake had transformed itself
into a lizard. "We looked at it, each other and the sky."
When Bunkers woke up, Dargan happened to call by phone, and he told her
that it was the lizard of Aboriginal dreamtime.
"We had met in dreamtime," Bunkers says, "and we decided to do the
Dargan will play his didgeridoo live during the six-part dance,
tentatively titled "From Water to Air." His videos of the Australian
landscape will serve as a moving backdrop for the 15 dancers on stage and
in the air.
Bunker's choreography has both floor work and trapeze, including
fragments from a trapeze work-in-progress that O-T-O's six apprentices
performed at a January show. The inspirational lizard appears in one
section, called appropriately enough, "Lizard of the Dreaming," but much
of the dance's imagery comes from the landscape. It moves from still water
to earth rocks to fast water to lighting, cloud and sky, Bunker says.
The 30-minute premiere will be the finale of a concert filled with live
music, including Native American flute and Japanese drums. Evren Ozan, a
young American Indian flutist whom Bunker and Koesters also met at the
festival, will play again for "Traveler," a lyrical collaborative work the
company debuted in November. Also choreographed by Bunker, that 12-minute
dance, a celebration of human-horse love, combines dance on the floor and
a backdrop of Koester videos.
Karen Falkenstrom and Rome Hamner, the local Japanese drumming duo
otherwise known as Odaiko Sonora, play the Taiko drums for another Bunker
premiere, "Crossing Over."
"I do an aerial solo with the flying box," Bunker reports. "I'm a
person going through death. The other four characters are the specters of
death." O-T-Oers Amy Barr, Batyah Morales Freedman, Lindsay Spilker and
Nicole Stansbury join Bunker for the six-minute dance of opposites, an
exploration of "white/black, slow/fast, yin-yang, tension/release."
Stansbury also showcases two pieces of her own choreography, a duet
that debuted in the January O-T-O show, and "Grey Matter," a quintet about
relationships danced to the soundscore from the movie The Royal
In "Semaphore," local poets Charles Alexander and Falkenstrom will
continue the humorous verbal jousting they started at the January concert,
and Bunker will once again slither on the floor between the dueling poets,
bag on her head. In keeping with the spirit of the season--and the Irish
Riverdancers high-stepping at Centennial Hall at the other end of
campus--guest choreographer Thom Lewis of FUNHOUSE movement theater stages
his comic dance, "Closet Irish."
"I saw it in a FUNHOUSE show several years ago and I really liked it,"
Bunker says. "I hadn't thought about it being near St. Patrick's Day."
O-T-O's Katie Rutterer, Lindsay Compitello, Freedman and Stansbury put
on the green and leap lightly on a set suited up as an Irish bar.
O-T-O modern dance concert
UA's Steve Eller
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6; 2 p.m. Sunday,
Advance tickets, $12 general $10 students at
Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave.
Bentley's, 1730 E. Speedway
Silverbell Trading, 7007 N. Oracle Road
$2 more day of
624-3799 or http://www.orts.org/