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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    For art’s sake

    Tanner Clinch

    Members of the Dmitri Matheny jazz ensemble play a set titled “Jazz Noir” at Hotel Congress during the Tucson Jazz Festival on Jan. 18.

    From dance to theater, this year, the UA has been a hub of artistic energy and creativity with memorable performances from the UA School of Dance, the Arizona Repertory Theatre and UA Presents Broadway in Tucson. The art that students encounter during their time on campus does more than simply entertain. When students attend performances, see the stage light up with colors and feel the room expand with music, they may find that the on-stage world divulges the richness of life outside the theater.

    The fall semester kicked off with “Jazz in AZ” — a staple performance from the UA School of Dance that piqued the interest of the community and confirmed its top rank among dance schools in the nation. The performance featured jazz, tap and contemporary. One of the most memorable pieces in the show was Michael William’s “Her/Him.” Danced in a contemporary style by a man and woman, the piece contrasted beautiful and graceful movements with a broken and insatiable relationship.

    Spring semester started with beautiful pirouettes and leaps as the UA School of Dance spun fresh talent onto classical choreography and reached new heights with its performance of “Color Wheel.” The show inundated the arts scene with refined creativity and technique. From George Balanchine’s elegant and untouchable “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” to Tamara Dyke-Compton’s gender-neutral piece “False Front” to Douglas Nielsen’s interpretative piece about love entitled “If You Don’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will,” “Color Wheel” painted the stage in the colors and vibrancy of spring.

    In the theatrical realm, the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s rendition of “Othello” honored the timeless and intense play while bringing together William Shakespeare fans and analysts from all walks of life. The students embodying the iconic roles of the play faced many challenges but overcame them with poise, clarity and confidence.

    Kristen Paine, a psychology freshman, studied “The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice” in Patrick Baliani’s Advanced Analytical Writing and Thinking course and attended the performance with her classmates.

    “I thought it was really amazing,” Paine said. “I thought Iago was awesome. I thought he was probably one of the strongest characters, as was Emilia. Iago was just loud, and he was very maniacal and evil. And then Emilia — I thought her emotion came through and the relationship with Desdemona. At the end, I remember thinking that was a journey. … To watch the whole thing unfold in just a couple of hours was just such an awesome experience, especially in such [a] small theater.”

    Paine added that the play portrayed humanity’s flawed nature and how humans interact and react to different situations. She said the ending left her feeling somewhat empty.

    Kathleen Allen, assistant features editor for the Arizona Daily Star, had positive things to say about all of the characters in the play.

    “Chris Okawa has proven his chops on Arizona Rep’s musical stage,” Allen said. “Here, in his role as Othello, [he] shows himself to be just as strong with drama.”

    While the Arizona Repertory Theatre showcases the brilliant acting students at the university, performances held by UA Presents Broadway in Tucson at Centennial Hall model the hopeful future many students will have in their professional careers.

    Spencer Halliday, a pre-journalism sophomore, said he was excited when he found out the musical “Once” was performing at Centennial Hall.

    “The show ‘Once’ was really incredible,” Halliday said. “This is actually my second time seeing it. The first was on Broadway, and the touring company was easily just as good, if not better, than Broadway. It was just incredible — the actors, the singing. I really like ‘Once’ because it’s a very natural musical. It’s not big and showy.”

    The musical’s rustic set and abrupt transitions made the play captivating and appealing.

    “One of the cool things about ‘Once’ is that it all takes place all over town, but it’s all in the same space; … The set doesn’t ever change,” Halliday said. “It always looks like they’re in a bar. It’s a pretty generic space they have, and it really worked well for all of them.  … I found [the lack of transitions] really interesting in that they’ll be talking in the bar one moment, and the transition line will be, ‘Now we are in a music shop,’ and then that’s where they are.”

    While there were many notable performances from the 2014-2015 school year, the heart of the matter is that art, in all shapes and forms, is thriving and advancing at the UA.


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