Best Local Dance Production
Orts Theatre of Dance
READERS' PICK: Our sleuthing readers gave no clue which of Orts'
performances they favored most this year, but the Orts file is thick with
unusual dances. The beloved local modern dance company opened its season with
a full-length work based on the true story of a medieval German theologian
condemned as a heretic by the Catholic Church. Tricky material, to be sure,
but Orts carried it off admirably. Airborne: Meister Eckhart, An Evening of
Flying Dance Theatre had a cast of 40, including Orts dancers, Desert
Voices singers, a real-life minister as narrator and a clutch of children and
elderly people. Songs sung in Latin and English, spoken texts drawn from
Eckhart's mystical writings and Orts' incomparable trapeze work all richly
evoked the Middle Ages. Presiding over the whole was Robert Davidson, the
Seattle dancer and choreographer who first introduced Orts to the trapeze.
Davidson made a wonderful flying Eckhart, his spare, bare head and intelligent
profile conveying a true man of God.
Urban Gaits was a second multi-media collaboration, an
"audiovisual poem" about Tucson's downtown danced by the dancers of
Orts, but created by a quintet of local artists who between them have worked
downtown for 87 years. The piece recounted a day in the life of downtown, with
dancers portraying by turns lawyers, lunch time workers, Club Congress
dancers, homeless people, and the elderly. Nancy Solomon and Chuck Koesters of
Orts shot the video images; poet Charles Alexander read his own works; Orts'
Annie Bunker choreographed; and painter Cynthia Miller made simple sets and
props. Koesters also composed music for songs made up of Alexander's texts.
The piece was a wonderful mixing of media and a satisfying effort to make art
out of contemporary life.