Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson! It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch our with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station.
Tom Heath: This week, we discussed the last statement of a mentor in 1993 and how just over 25 years later, it’s impacting students at the University of Arizona. Today is November 17th. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life Along The Streetcar. Each and every Sunday, our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about.
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Tom Heath: We’re going to start today. With a humble acknowledgement of our importance. We don’t do it often but we are in the midst of a Downtown Radio a fund drive. We are a underground radio station we broadcast out of the basement of a warehouse and we do that because we want to keep our costs down but we do have costs.
Tom Heath: If you’re listening to this station, then you already know how cool we are, you know about are DJs and the shows you can hear six days a week of Rock and Roll, the seventh day we give those folks a rest because, I believe everyone needs a rest on the seventh day. But we do the radio shows ,the hosted shows like Education Matters, Life Along the Streetcar and our Mental Health shows that come up after us. Also open it up to more alternative music in the evenings on Sundays.
Tom Heath: All this happens through volunteer effort. Our DJ’s just love the music that they play and they’re extremely knowledgeable in their going to get you into to the insights of musicians and they’re going to show you music that you’re not going to hear anywhere else in Tucson.
Tom Heath: But to do that, we need your help as a volunteer radio station as a non-profit radio station. We have limits on the amount of advertising we can actually do so we do have some Underwriters which we are extremely grateful to have and they they do promote our show and they do sustain us, but we need a little extra to make this station a little better.
Tom Heath: So we reach out to you once or twice a year for a little bit of a Fun Drive, you can head over to DowntownRadio.org and hit the Donate button. 5 or 10 bucks is a good chunk of what we need to get us on our goal of $2,500, and we had a meeting last week and decided to show host and DJs that we’re just going to run this until we hit a goal of $2,500. If we hit it today, we’re done!
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Tom Heath: And as he puts it “if you’re a cool cat with a Creasy bump a greasy pompadour and cuffed jeans or Betty with victory rolls in a fancy dress looking for something a Groove to tune into books Rockabilly Rumble”, thats on Mondays, you know, one of my favorite shows on Saturday is Brother Mok Radio Club Crawl.
Tom Heath: Brother Mok is a musician is a history on the radio and he does a show talking about all of the bands coming to Tucson to hear a lot of local music on his show and those that are traveling and then he tells you where you can hear them live later that week.
Tom Heath: And then on Wednesdays McMaster, he’s got our Space Rock show. You’re not gonna find a space Rock Show anywhere else. So you want to tune into downtown radio and listen to McMasters. He plays out a very interesting genre of music and if you know, it’s This rock is then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Tom Heath: He also does this feature called Four on the Floor where he finds four songs with the same name and then plays them back to back. These aren’t these aren’t like covers in the you know, repeats of the same song by different artists. These are actually different songs with the same name. Do you know how hard that has to be to find four songs with the same name? And he does this for on the floor. I’m telling you that’s a type of commitment. Our DJ’s have to the music that they play and they need your help, too. To continue to do that here. So head over to Downtown Radio dot-org hit the Donate button. Give us a few dollars for this pledge Drive get us to $2,500 or even better yet. Give us a recurring pledge so that we can get 10 bucks a month from you and keep all this fantastic stuff Happening Here on the radio.
Tom Heath: Our feature today has to do with Famous Last Words. John Salmon is a name you may recognize, he was the student body president University of Arizona. He was our starting quarterback in the 20s. He was the catcher on the baseball team is academic pretty well liked and popular individual. Who was in a car accident in 1926 just after the very first football game and suffered a spinal cord injury.
Tom Heath: His last words through the coach of the football team Pop Mikhail’s last words to his teammates was tell them tell the team to Bear Down. That statement still impacts U of A student’s to this day. We have a building that has the Bear Down symbol on it, Bear Down Gym. We’ve got to fight song and it’s often the case that the words of those dear to us. Those who Inspire us those who taught us that those words live long after they’re passing, you know, Knute Rockne told Notre Dame football team to win one for the Gipper after the death of a young teammate with the last name of Gip that became a movie and it’s still a phrase that you’re going to hear today.
Tom Heath: Well, our feature is about the final message which stayed with Autumn Eckman for over two decades. She was by the side of her Mentor 1993 when he passed her Mentor was a man dedicated to performing choreographing and teaching in the profession of dance Autumn 15 at the time was an aspiring dancer and at his side. She asked if he needed anything well his It’s would resonate for years.
Tom Heath: And now in 2019. She has fulfilled his last request. We’re going to start our interview with Autumn Eckman assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Dance find it how she came to be in Tucson. And why now was the right time to honor her Mentor Tom Pasic.
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, I’m Autumn Eckman, and I’m an assistant professor of Dance.
Tom Heath: Assistant professor of dance. So the U of A has a college of fine arts. And within that is the School of Dance. That’s right.
Tom Heath: Okay School of Dance talk to me more about that. How does that become part of a Academic Institution?
Autumn Eckman: So you can earn your degree as an undergraduate or graduate. We have an MFA program. We also have a minor and maybe masters of Masters of Fine Arts and they can focus on their performance with the choreography. And basically it’s a conservatory environment for professional training and performance for aspiring dancers who also want to earn their University degree. We probably have almost half of our students are double majors.
Tom Heath: Do your students then go on to performing careers or what happens to a graduate?
Autumn Eckman: Hopefully and if they want, you know, if that’s what they’re aspiring to do. So we have gosh we have like people on Broadway cruise ships, Vegas people with commercial contracts and Lala and then there’s the concert side of dance, which is more of what I came from, which is you perform and work for companies. Whether it be a ballet company modern company nowadays a contemporary company Jazz so on so forth.
Tom Heath: So, how did you end up? And how did you always your path to get to Tucson?
Autumn Eckman: How far back are we talking here? Where’s the last five or six years before I ever six years? Okay got tattoos. I was in Chicago. I danced there probably about 16 years and the first choreographers choreography. I learned as a professional dancer for a company. Called Giordano dance Chicago is the artist in Residence and faculty member here, Sam Watson and also teacher and choreographer Michael Williams.
Autumn Eckman: They were first generation company members of Giordano dance Chicago, which is the oldest Jazz Company in the United States and I danced there is my first professional job and Flash Forward 16 years. I was retiring from another Company in Chicago mean Hubbard Street dance Chicago and I went to grad school at the University of Iowa. And then we sort of ready for a change. So I saw that there was a job opening here and when I graduated I decided I’m kind of honestly I wanted to get out of the cold so I but I had this I almost missed the Mark. I was within maybe two or three hours of the position posting of closing and I somehow I had missed it when I was applying for jobs.
Autumn Eckman: So I scrambled and sent my stuff in and I got the interview so I came here and it just felt it just felt like it should be the place that I should be because The had this this connected history and they knew what the training was about because on the flip side of that I would say maybe 70% of the Giordano – Chicago Company are currently you a school dance alums. Wow. So there’s a really really wonderful connection. I served as their rehearsal director resident choreographer for about eight years. So it just seemed it seemed like kind of a perfect match.
Tom Heath: And he obeys the reputation of the school. I understand is as very strong nationally.
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, it’s really strong. We have a focus is ballet modern and Jazz with equal emphasis. So our students and our grads are there really marketable and desirable in the field because they can they can they can succeed in so many different ways.
Tom Heath: Did you find an interesting transition from being the constant performer to being an educator?
Autumn Eckman: It was interesting and that I kept thinking I was done and then somehow some way. I don’t think I’ve never done for forming. So probably two three four times a year. I’m dusting off the shoes and getting myself back in the game and still performing whether it’s for our our main stage productions here at the school of dance. I also have my own project and tap tours nationally and internationally. And so I kind of a kind of send myself on the road for budgetary reasons, but but I it’s really great because I get to experience professional dancing life on my terms as a mature artist. So it’s it’s it’s interesting in that way and that I get to I still can do it.
Tom Heath: Well, what about the teaching aspect though? Is that something that it’s because you were in choreography before is it is just sort of a natural flow?
Autumn Eckman: Yeah. And they is the expectation is that you know professors they choreograph and they teach along with you know, some still perform and obviously mentoring our students but I always knew that the teaching was the path. I eventually wanted to to move towards.
Tom Heath: is that always teaching like like instructing or is it teaching like you’re reading about Theory or you’re reading about both?
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, I get You teach the modern dance history portion of our dance history lectures. And so that’s always really fun.
Tom Heath: So the school dance is it’s the Stevie Eller Theater where they perform. Yes, and I was at a dress rehearsal not too long ago. So thank you for the invite to their welcome was very interesting. I noticed that you have a lot of sponsorships for the program. So this is not a the tuition is not sustaining all of the needs here. Within the school of dance.
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, it takes a village just like any Arts organization and the school has done and our directors have done an incredible job of building a huge following in our audience called. It’s an organization called Dance partners with they have a large amount of season subscriptions and people that attend every single performance which We have about give or take the review. It’s like or give or take is probably about 40 performances a year. Yeah, so we rely on ticket sales and people support and actually being in the seats.
Tom Heath: We’ll be right back to our interview with Autumn Ekman and we’re going to hear the Fantastic story of her experience with her mentor and how that’s led to a fantastic opportunity to students here at the University of Arizona. I want to remind you that you are listening to Life along the streetcar on downtown. On radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org.
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Tom Heath: All right, and now we’re back to the conclusion of our interview with automatic men, very inspiring and touching story of interaction. She had with her Mentor 1993 and the impact it’s now having on the School of Dance the dress rehearsal that I went to I that was my first experience in the school and I found it interesting because there were segments of performances from barely classical works. There was more modern Shins and then there are some original work of which we’ll talk about in a moment that had displayed anywhere prior to that. Is that common about when you do a show?
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, they call it a mixed repertoire. So these students are learning what we call Masterworks and this time around they did some neoclassical work by George Balanchine, which I think was the one you’re referring to they do they get to do a Masterwork that’s in the ballet discipline, but what we call classical and then they had a flamingo piece. It’s just this wonderful piece that gives a cultural perspective to dance and exposes them to things just outside of ballet modern and Jazz.
Tom Heath: Well, let me Focus for a moment. And this is a big reason why I want to interview with you specifically there was a show open with something that you had choreographed and that that in of itself I think is amazing but it’s probably choreograph is something choreography something you do. So it’s not probably super amazing to you. But to me, it’s amazing. But the story behind it was really moving. Can you would you mind sharing what what what this was and how he came to be here?
Autumn Eckman: First of all, thank you for saying I have it. Always I never it’s always a challenge and special to me. I am definitely still growing as an artist and just I never get bored or tired. I’m always always eager to figure out more and learning how to do the next thing so Orchid to get better when I’m currently doing but this piece for this program is titled gold jackets, and it’s Unique because it’s an all-male ensemble, which I have never worked with before I we have about 40 men in the program. So I have to cast of 12. So I have twenty four guys in the room, you know, so it’s fun.
Autumn Eckman: It’s so fun to have their energy and their their camaraderie and their Brotherhood. That’s exactly what the piece became about. I had some thoughts about it in the first place of what I thought it would be but ultimately it was about our bond and friendship and even just passed that not just them as themselves but in a universal sense Originally, I was inspired by the music. It was a piece of music I had forgotten about since I was a teenager it was the soundtrack from the mission by ennio morricone and my mentor from my time growing up in training in Atlanta. He it was one of his favorite pieces of music.
Autumn Eckman: His name is Tom pasic. Yeah, and he well. It’s if he passed away on Thanksgiving Day 1993. So we’re coming right up on the on the anniversary and I guess we you know, truly I don’t think I’ve ever made a piece that’s deeply personal. That doesn’t always I always don’t feel like that’s something I need to put out there. So it’s an abstraction of of a memory and experience and I guess more of an old paying homage. I thought he was one of Greatest mentors and Trainers for for young dancers that I you know that anybody had ever worked with so he he passed away.
Autumn Eckman: Like I said a 93 and he was he was he fell victim to the HIV and AIDS epidemic and I was 15 years old and you know, I was with him I was there I was in the hospital room with him. And I asked him if he needed anything and in those last few hours, he was somewhere else. He was choreographing. I think or his mind was focused on some past performance and he told me to make sure the men get their gold jackets and so I held onto that for a few years.
Autumn Eckman: And so this year our goal jacket something in the dance world, or was it? Something that where he was at that moment.
Autumn Eckman: Where he was and I’ve asked I’ve asked quite a few people who worked for him. He was a he was the resident choreographer of Atlanta Ballet and he said lots of different pieces. He set pieces on Giordano – Chicago he was very close family to them. The dance world is very connected in a very magical way sometimes and so up until probably this week. I’ve been Trying to figure out what these gold jackets are and nobody knows so I don’t know if it’s real or not. And so in a way, I think this is what he would do sort of put my imagination into fulfilling whatever that that dream was.
Tom Heath: And I would imagine like for any artist when you’re when you’re when you’re creating something bye-bye painter, you’re writing a song You’re creating something by dance. There’s there’s an emotion that comes through the medium and it did this capture what you were hoping it captured.
Autumn Eckman: That’s a great question. I think so. I wanted it to take the audience on a journey from you know, the all the cast members are very much individuals. They stand alone. They come together some point during the middle they start to connect and then 8 then they stand alone at the end but knowing that they have gone through something together. So it’s this sense of sort of becoming through through experience. So I think If there’s an emotion, it’s just I think we can all can all connect to that experience and I guess as a choreographer. Well, I just I enjoy trying to figure out either what it meant or just letting it be what it means to me. I never really try to spell out and tell people exactly what they should should think or feel.
Tom Heath: I think I think if you have talk to artists that say the exact same thing about their paint, there’s there’s there’s something that created that but once it’s created. It’s sort of out of their area that’s up to the public then to interpret it as they will.
Autumn Eckman: Yeah, it’s kind of cool to take stock and realize how your own Active informs everything you see so yeah.
Tom Heath: This is just been a big tease because no one can see this anymore because you’re you’re all your pain. All your performances are sold out and this is not something that is likely to be repeated anytime soon within the school, right?
Autumn Eckman: Not within the school. I would you know, probably fight pretty hard to find a way to have it in a life beyond here. Maybe maybe it can be, you know staged. I swear I definitely think it could come back. We have these beautiful costumes and our stock. So I think it will definitely make its way back around but the good news is there will be other performances.
Tom Heath: I think that’s the point that I’m getting close. There’s there’s these hidden gems of performances throughout the school. And if you get if this isn’t it all the passion you need to be aware of this to see what’s coming because if you miss it, you may miss it for a long time or forever.
Autumn Eckman: That’s very true. Yeah right here on campus is the greatest concert Dance Space dance program. You can find it’s great.
Tom Heath: It was Autumn Eckman assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Dance, which is a school with inside of the college of fine arts. And I thank her for her time and really nice invitation to see a dress rehearsal because the show was sold out we couldn’t actually get tickets. I appreciate her getting us in so we could check it out and get a little back story and I do hope at some point you get a chance to see gold jackets as a novice dance. Watcher I found it very fascinating. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on DowntownRadio.org
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Tom Heath: That is a wrap for show 110 and I think Autumn Eckman for her time today and remind you to head over to Life Along the Streetcar.org for any past episodes and you can also hear today’s episode along with Autumn’s Interview, which we posted a little bit later on and also head over to Downtown Radio.org to hit that donate button and help us towards our pledge Drive of $2,500
Tom Heath: Too much to happen too much happened on the show to go over here. We’re running low on On time so I just invite you to stay in touch with us on Facebook. So you can see all the cool stuff happening on Life Along the Streetcar.
Tom Heath: Well, in honor of Tom Pasic, who was the mentor of Autumn Eckman. We are leaving you today with music from any oh mark on the creator of the music for the movie The Mission. This is a background a song of his on Earth as it is in in heaven little bit of a departure from our normal music, but I think it’s a high-class show today. So we’re going to leave you some high-class music. My name is Tom Heath. I hope you have a fantastic week and please tune in next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar.