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Urban Gaits' an ambitious mélange of dance, other arts 

 By Gene Armstrong 

From the sublime to the obvious, O-T-O Dance  addresses the changing landscape of Tucson's downtown  area in its new full-length work ``Urban Gaits.'' The ambitious work, seen during its final dress rehearsal  yesterday morning, weds artistic director Anne Bunker's  modern-dance choreography with a collage-like  electronic score by Chuck Koesters, video by Nancy  Solomon, wood set pieces by Cynthia Miller and poetry  and lyrics by Charles Alexander. It plays through Sunday in the Tucson Center for the  Performing Arts. 

O-T-O has staged ``Urban Gaits'' on the center's floor, as if  the work has grown too big to inhabit simply the stage.  The performance area is like a naturalistic thrust, with  audience members surrounding it on three sides. That makes some of the sight lines difficult - Lee Anne  Hartley's beautiful bird-like solo, which opens the  second act, is tough to see from some seats. But the members of O-T-O expect this. As Bunker said in  her introduction yesterday, viewers are meant to see  some things and miss some others, rather like life. Bunker displays good choreographic ideas here, and she  even shows a little growth, especially in the coordination of tribal-style movement for the entire 10  dancers - eight group members and two apprentices. 

The characters' waking and morning rituals in early  scenes and the later techno dancing scene (at a place  called ``The Club'') seem a bit too literal, but are among  the most recognizable. That served the concert well at  yesterday's matinee for schoolchildren. Solomon's video imagery communicates the flavor of  downtown Tucson realistically but also uses tight focus  to make our urban landscape more dramatic. Throughout the work, O-T-O employs four fixed-point  trapezes, which have become a trademark for the  company. During a couple of early scenes, the devices seem  superfluous. But in the section titled ``Common  Gatherers,'' several elements, including the trapezes,  combine in a beautiful mise en scène. While four dancers float in the trapezes and Solomon's  cinematic Tucson icons dance on the walls, Koesters'  electronic music seems to connote a sense of traveling. 

All the dancers contribute committed, energetic  performances, even a passel of child guest stars. But the  long, lithe lines of Stacey Haynes and centered presence  of Charles M. Thompson are most impressive in this  production. 

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