The artistic impact was profound in Zuzi Dance Company's 75-minute concert "Crossing Boundaries." Presented last weekend, the production is a series of nine separate pieces by various choreographers who combine aerial and modern dance, theater and music.

Building emotion with performances appealing for their honesty and directness, this impressive work stacks up shades of longing and desperation that would be unbearable without the possibility of hope. It is this hope that adds poignancy to all that longing and desperation.

We can sit around forever debating how to distinguish well-meaning Latino immigrants - documented or not - from drug traffickers and other lawbreakers speaking Spanish. Meanwhile, the saddest stories come from people with nowhere to go who end up badly in the deserts around Tucson.

"Crossing Boundaries" interweaves their stories with art so there is no ending. These twisted experiences become one continuous story that is still being told, in many voices, always getting longer and more urgent. Watching the production feels like slowly turning up the volume on a crackling radio station nobody wants to hear.

The most plaintive of these voices comes from Eva Tessler and Licia Perea, choreographers/dancers/actors who are co-founders of the nationally performing Latina Dance Project. In "New Moon over Juarez," these two portray the haunted suffering of single women stuck on the Mexican side of the border, unable to find a way across, vulnerable to violence because they don't have the protection of their families

Nanette Robinson, Zuzi's founding artistic director, choreographed the concluding piece, "These Shoes," and joined Beth Braun to choreograph two additional pieces. In all three, the openness of natural movement was used to emphasize the human element expressed by dancers in bare feet.

There is no fancy footwork here. Nobody is going to live happily ever after, not even the ones who survive.

Although "Crossing Boundaries" was performed only one weekend, it deserves a wider audience. The music composed and performed by human-rights activist Pablo Peregrina brought more power to the production. His participation should always be included.

An equally important element that needs to accompany future presentations of "Crossing Boundaries" is the artwork of Debbie McCullough. She prepared and exhibited several shrines of a sort, each about 2 feet square, using only the personal items border crossers left behind in the desert. Tattered shoes were common; so were copies of the Holy Bible.


Zuzi Dance Company's production of "Crossing Boundaries" last weekend at Zuzi Theater.

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