If it weren't for a regular heartbeat, we'd have no rhythm at all. But we may take to the dance floor yet, thanks to inspiration from dancer/choreographer Marlies Yearby and the cast of New Danceworks II, to be performed this weekend by ASU's Dance Arizona Repertory Theater. Yearby has created a dance designed around 27 schoolchildren taking their pulse (that we can do). Graduate dance students Rayn Hookala and Liz Young add further motivation, as does visitor Fred Darsow, with his passionate blend of flamenco and modern dance.
And for a local Latin influence, guest artist Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner offers Solo Tu, a tribute to her Arizona grandmother. Set to the Frida soundtrack, the piece demands that dancers work as hard as the choreographer's grandmother, who "worked as a cleaning lady 40 years, scrubbing floors, always on her knees. That's an image you'll see a lot." Another of the work's snapshots depicts a dancer covered by sheets, capturing the struggle of the 4'11" woman to keep mountains of clean laundry off the floor.
Gutierrez-Garner says that even non-dancers can connect with her piece. "The women show so much character, it's not hard to follow the story," she explains. "The music is amazing, the movement very physical. It can hook you into it kinesthetically."
New Danceworks II
ASU's Dance Theatre in Building PE East, 551 East Orange in Tempe
Takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, through Saturday, March 6, and 2 p.m. Sunday March 7. Admission is $14 for adults, $5 for students, with two-for-one tickets on Friday, March 5. Call 480-965-6447 for reservations.
One especially appreciative patron recently saw the piece performed: its 80-year-old muse. "It was a privilege to make it while she was still living," says Gutierrez-Garner. "She has a third-grade education, but she was always smart and sharp. She always encouraged me."
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New Danceworks II encourages us to leap further into ASU's Herberger College of Fine Arts' DART program, which connects ASU dance students with professional choreographers and local schoolchildren to produce and perform original dance art.