By ROBYN ZELICKSON
Not for nothing did Nolan Kubota win Mr. Tucson Entertainer of the Year in 2016. He and his dance students really know how to create an entertaining show.
Kubota and his dancers will stage their spring production, “Dance Fusion,” at the Pima Community College West Campus Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre on May 5-6.
Performance times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $8-$10, discounted to $5 for students with ID. For information, call the box office at 206-6986.
The performances will offer eight works instead of the usual five. Student dancer/choreographers Lindsay Kourig, Kyle Reza and Taljah Blue all contributed a work.
“This year, we’re doing a collaboration of choreography with the ‘Arts 4 All’ group,” Kubota said. “It’s based on a poem by Maya Angelou called ‘Human Family,’ and we’ve been going down to their studio to rehearse with them and their director, Karenne Koo.”
And of course, Kubota’s choreography will also be showcased.
“We have several comedy pieces,” Kubota said. “One is called ‘Swimming’ and has the girls swimming around the stage on scooter-boards. The male lead is an octopus.”
Dancer Anna Ramirez called the number both entertaining and challenging. “Everyone will love it,” she said. “We had bruises from the boards.”
Kubota is most excited about a jazz-based musical theater number called “Another Day of Sun,” inspired by the movie “La La Land.” His three leads are Ramirez, Esteban Sanchez and Savannah Lowe.
Kubota calls it a “show-stopper,” while Ramirez offers another description. “We call it ‘The Throw-Up Dance,’” she said with a chuckle.
Kubota adds, “It’s a lot of cardio for them and by the end, well…”
Another comedy piece is one Kubota has been waiting for a long time to stage. He finally has the perfect group of dancers.
It’s called “In These Shoes,” choreographed by Irish artist Camille O’Sullivan. She originally trained as an architect but traded in her drafting table for the stage after a life-altering car accident.
In Kubota’s piece, the shoes in question are called “pleasers.” Lead dancer Laura Randles wears platform stilettos while performing her routine, backed up by Kourig and Blue.
“At first, there was a lot of falling,” Randles said. “I thought I would fall off and break my ankle.”
Kubota is happy with the 12-dancer ensemble, as it’s one of the biggest he’s had in years. Some performers aren’t dance majors and one, surprisingly, came in off the street wanting to learn to dance.
One important aspect of dance that Kubota shares with his students is the ever-present possibility of injury. Many dancers’ careers finish early because their bodies can no longer take the punishment that constant training and performing inflicts.
Kubota teaches students how to develop longevity in their dance careers, so that when they do retire from performing they can still be teachers or choreographers.
“They need to develop an artistic identity,” he said. “It’s important to see and hear the dancer’s voice.”
One of Kubota’s role models, famous dancer, choreographer and teacher Donald McKayl, has a saying that Kubota favors:
“You have to remember that the very last person to decide what a dance is, is a dancer. Not the choreographer, or the director, or the audience.”
“Dance Fusion” 2017
Where: West Campus CFA Proscenium Theatre
When: May 5-6, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $8-$10, students $5 with ID
Box office: 206-6986
‘Dance Fusion’ performers hold a practice in the desert. ‘Dance Fusion’ 2017 will be held on May 5-6. (Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts.)