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Orts Exports

Orts stops at home in the middle of some world travel.

By Margaret Regan

O-T-O Dance is in between international engagements, but Tucsonans can catch them this weekend in a performance in the Old Pueblo.

"We went to Ecuador at the beginning of May," says artistic director Annie Bunker, "and we're going to Russia on June 28."

But before they depart, the troupe is staging Improv in the Baked Apple 2001, the fourth annual summer evening of dance, video, spoken word and music, this Saturday evening, for one show only. Joining the Orts regulars for the loosely structured performance will be Eva Tessler of Zenith Dance Collective; Jan Justis, a Denver choreographer who is teaching in the Orts summer dance workshop this month; Suzanne Nay, a Tucson "contact improvisationalist"; and poets Charles Alexander and Richard Tavenner. Chuck Koesters will provide video.

Also performing will be a couple of Ecuadoran dancers, 16-year-old Gabriela Garcia and 30-something Jorge Parra. Orts went South America way as a late entry in Quito's Festival Alas, Bunker says. The troupe taught classes and performed at the festival, and ended up bringing the two Ecuadoran dancers back home for the month of June. Garcia and Parra were given scholarships by the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador, which also paid Orts' per-diem expenses in the country. The pair have been studying at the Orts workshop.

The Ecudoran connection will also yield a collaborative international dance, Bunker says.

"We have a year-long project in Quito," Bunker says. She'll co-choreograph a piece with Patricio Andrade, director of the Festival Alas and artistic director of the Propu Danza troupe. Bunker will begin work with her own dancers here, while Andrade works with his company at home. In January, Bunker and Koesters will travel to Ecuador again to meet with Andrade and put the piece together. Orts and Propu expect to perform the work together next May in Ecudaor, and in Tucson during the 2002-2003 season.

"It will be a contrast of culture and landscape," Bunker says of the prospective dance, "about 30 minutes long."

At the end of June, Bunker, Koesters and dancers Charles Thompson and Matt Henley will fly to Petersburg to perform in a Russian dance festival and to teach.

"They're interested in Charles' martial arts and dance," Bunker says, "and in our aerial work and my modern dance."