The artists formerly known as Orts begin a new
season with a new name and a new hall.
|Leaps and bounds: O-T-O Dance has a new
name and a new venue. |
its 19th season, everything old is new again for O-T-O Dance, the Tucson
modern dance troupe formerly known as Orts Theatre of Dance.
There's a new home, in the just-opened Stevie Eller Dance Theatre at
the University of Arizona, where the O-T-O-ers will offer their
season-opening concert this weekend.
There are new dancers, gleaned via Internet, videotape and audition
from such far-flung points as Florida, Georgia and Oregon.
And, perhaps most puzzlingly to their loyal fans, there's a new name.
Just how did it happen so that solid, one-syllable Orts elided into the
airborne, hyphenated O-T-O?
"Why not?" laughs artistic director and founding member Annie Bunker.
"After 19 years, I'm ready for a change."
It turns out that Bunker was never thrilled with the old name. She
relates that years ago, one dark night in the desert, her car broke down,
and she missed a crucial committee vote on a name. She had another title
in mind, but the vote went on without her. Last year, consultants decreed
that the name chosen by that long-ago committee was earthbound and in no
way conveyed what Orts had become: an aerial troupe that routinely flies
above ground on trapezes.
"What we do is in the air," Bunker explains. "So we went with O-T-O,
the first letters of each word in the old name." The T in the new name
even looks a little like a trapeze, if you think about it, with a round
dancer at either end.
O-T-O is delighted to be dancing in Stevie Eller, after years at Pima
College West's Proscenium Theatre.
"Oh, man, are we excited," Bunker says. "We're ready for a change. To
be in a building specifically designed for dance! It's so intimate, and
there's not a bad seat in the house."
Fittingly, for a new space, the six dances on the program include two
premieres. "Traveler" is a three-way collaboration among choreographer
Bunker, composer/videographer Chuck Koesters (Bunker's husband and the
company's technical director) and a 10-year-old Native American flutist
from California named Evren Ozan.
"We went to a Native American flute conference in July, in New Mexico,"
Bunker explains. "Every night, we listened to amazing music."
Bunker and Koesters were particularly impressed with young Evren, who
struck up a friendship with their son, Wrenn, and the two families began
brainstorming performance possibilities. They arranged for Evren to travel
to Tucson this week to play live for the piece, which celebrates horses,
the people who love them, and one particular mare named Baric, whom Bunker
rode as a teen and young woman in Connecticut. Performed against a video
backdrop of equine and human images, the dance for six will feature Katie
Rutterer, Lindsay Compitello and Bunker, and new dancers Batyah Freedman,
Nicole Stansbury and Kim Kieffer.
The other premiere is Rutterer's "Free Samples," a comical piece for
six about the interaction between department store staffers and the
customers who resist their wares. Music by the Kronos Quartet accompanies
the work, which Rutterer based on a job she once endured in a mall. Four
of the "Traveler" dancers return here, with Wendy Lowe and Sarah Parton
replacing Bunker and Rutterer.
Kevin Schroder, a fine dancer who performed with the late 10th Street
Danceworks after dancing in New York with the likes of Lar Lubovitch and
Merce Cunningham, contributes "This Is for You." This trio dating from the
late '90s evokes an old-time nightclub, Bunkers says, and Koesters
re-arranged the old jazz piece "Pussycat Blues" to make an original score.
The troupe reprises the meditative "Desert Wash," Bunker's homage to
the late musician Rainer Ptacek, which debuted last March. Danced by most
of the company, including Charles Thompson, who will come back for the
concert from his new San Diego home, it's a lovely work in white.
The dancers carry "long white fabric, and video projections of the
desert fall on the cloth," Bunker says. "The video (by Koesters) is picked
up on different surfaces and it becomes very sculptural."
An excerpt from the evening-length work "Rapture Rumi" will include
Thompson's mesmerizing solo on a trapeze, which he performed in a 1998
concert of this work by Robert Davidson.
"We've only done it once full-length," but the three sections O-T-O
chose for the excerpt work well together, Bunker says. The company, which
routinely travels abroad these days, danced it to acclaim recently in
Ecuador. This time around, Patti Lopez joins Bunker, Rutterer and
Compitello for the work, danced to a soundscape of music by composer
Steven Flynn and spoken poems by Rumi, a 12th-century mystic.
Susan Quinn's work for three women, "St. Teresa," is also on the
program. To be danced by Compitello, Rutterer and Bunker, to the music of
Joan Osborne, the piece explores the intense friendships of women. O-T-O
has danced "St. Teresa" before, but deliberately added it to their debut
concert in Stevie Eller.
"Since she's a professor at the UA (dance division), we thought it was
appropriate to have a faculty piece. It gets a good response," not unlike
the new theater.
"The building is so wonderful," Bunker says, again. "It's a gem."
O-T-O DANCE 19th Season
Where: Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, east end of UA
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16.
$12-$14 day of show; $10-$12 in advance at Bentley's, Antigone Books,
Silverbell Trading or by reservation through O-T-O.
Info: 624-3799, http://www.orts.org/