Next month international performance group Nemcatacoa Teatro will take to the figurative stage for a night of archaeology, art, and exploration at the ASU Deer Valley Rock Art Center. The Colombian performers specialize in performance and street theater and will present Landscape Re-invention Society on Saturday, October 12. They'll be joined by Tucson's Verbo-bala, who will present Sonoran Strange, a multimedia performance piece.
The event, called Desierto Remix: Performance in the Desert is being organized by the ASU Deer Valley Rock Art Center in conjunction with ASU Performance in the Borderlands.
We say "figurative" stage because Landscape Re-invention Society won't involve a set space. Instead, it will be a mobile spectacle during which the performers will move through the desert on stilts while doing acrobatics. It will be a sort of procession through the desert landscape, meant to explore the history and many layers of meaning at the Rock Art Center, which is an archaeological site and nature preserve.
Casandra Hernandez of the ASU Deer Valley Rock Art Center is co-organizing the event with Mary Stephen, producing director for Performance in the Borderlands, and has seen the troupe perform four times already, most recently at Arcosanti earlier this summer.
"They're some of the most amazing performers that I've ever seen," Hernandez says. "On one hand they have stunning acrobatics... and on the other they're very poetic about their movement."
Once the Nemcatacoa performance is complete, the audience will find themselves at the space designated for Verbo-bala's act, Hernandez says.
The Arizona-based group has created a giant barrel cactus-shaped screen for their Sonoran Strange performance onto which they will project video and multimedia elements. The piece was written by bilingual poet Logan Phillips, while the video production was done by Emmett White. Sonoran Strange will use circular storytelling to re-imagine the oral history and tall tales of the Borderlands, using samples of authors, photographs, and videos to remix the classics. The idea? To spark conversation about what it means to be living in Arizona today.
"It's quite a beautiful piece," Hernandez says. "It's grounded in poetics, but it also takes on a very visual dimension. It's quite a sight."
In addition to the two performance pieces, the Desierto Remix will also include video installations from an ASU theater professor and opportunities to explore the museum and the Rock Art Center trail.
The one-night-only event will mark the first time the ASU Deer Valley Rock Art Center has hosted such an event. Hernandez and Stephen have been producing events together for about a year. Hernandez says they both wanted to do something complex and cutting edge that would address "the reality of our border." After seeing both Nemcatacoa Teatro and Verbo-bala perform this spring, they knew they wanted to bring the groups to the Rock Art Center.
"We're looking at ways to re-imagine and reinterpret the desert by looking at the way that we produce knowledge and also use our own bodies to understand these spaces," Hernandez says. "We're also looking at the cultural history of Arizona and the stories about the Sonoran desert, its people, and its geography.
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"We're really excited. This is a dream come true."
Tickets to Desierto Remix: Performance in the Desert cost $10 for general admission or $8 for students. The show will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on October 12 at the Deer Valley Rock Art Center. Tickets can be purchased on the Deer Valley Rock Art Center website.
Editor's note: This post has been modified from its original version.