Mesa dance company readies spring show, fingers crossed The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa dance company readies spring show, fingers crossed

Mesa dance company readies spring show, fingers crossed

By Janelle Molony, Tribune Contributor

Bridgette Borzillo, founder of the “kinesthetic” Mesa dance company CaZo, is launching a remastered production of Fate this May at the Tempe Center for the Arts – assuming virus-related curbs on crowds dissipate.

To liven up their sixth year in operation, she anticipates her dancers going out on a literal limb to dazzle and awe audiences as she combines live singing, live music and aerial acrobatics to tell a story as old as time itself.

Fate will provoke audiences to consider the directions people take in life as determined by supernatural powers: How is it some lives naturally intertwine without (or despite of) a person’s efforts?

Called a “dance story,” the performance will follow four main characters through a series of situations binding their lives together in an emotionally-charged tale.

Leo Claudillo, 21, one of the male leads in the upcoming show and a dance instructor in the Phoenix Union School District, has been dancing with CaZo for four years.

About the spring show, he said, “One might think at the beginning they’ve figured it all out, but events play out in a way to keep their interest until the end.”

The company is semi-professional with multiple levels of dancer skill and responsibilities.

With 15 core members and four apprentices and “pre-professionals,” the company expects an all-in attitude from the performers. Any discipline a dancer can bring to the stage is fodder to be highlighted, such as tap from 15-year old Amie Falkner or Lyra hoop work from aerialist Martha Hernandez.

The spring show will also highlight local singers Irma Gloria and Tom Mangum.

Portions of the upcoming production were previewed at the company’s annual fundraiser event in March.

Claudillo stunned onstage with a fresh, intense energy. “My goal is to tell the story with everything I have,” he explained. “If you put a mask on me and only saw my eyes, you’d still know everything you need to know.”

The visual conversation element is encouraged by theatre choreographer and acting skills coach, Tippi Hart. As someone who usually teaches actors to dance, the task of teaching dancers to act was a natural fit for her with the company.

“A lot of dance is purely abstract,” she said. “It’s just movement through space. But [CaZo] has a specific through-line.” Her mark on performance quality is noticeable in unusual movements such as “characterized breathing.”

The chemistry between dance couples is palpable; they reach out blindly, only to sink deeply into each other’s arms a moment later.

Several lifts between leads Martha Hernandez and Dominque Baily display a play on strength and softness only achieved with complete trust and intense preparation.

“Dom’s hitting the gym hard,” said a fellow dancer in regards to the way he can manipulate the weight of his partner.

For viewers who are considering bringing young children, some suggestive scenes imply but don’t demonstrate intimate moments. Claudillo said.

Women are also taught ways to lift each other safely using physics principals to maximize motion but with a reduced risk of injury.

Jamie Larkin, a repeat-audience member, called the female lifts one of her favorite things to see in the shows.

Neftali Mendoza, 17, one of the apprentices, said his favorite part of the work he does with CaZo is also in the partnering dynamics.

With Hart’s guidance, dancers are encouraged to apply their own emotional memories to current dances to bring a genuineness, or “texture” to the moment. Dancer Keanna Augustin cried real tears onstage as she empathized with the scenarios played out.

The May production promises to leave audiences feeling hopeful and romantic. It will also be a night of giving back to the community with a portion from every ticket sale being channeled to Believe I Can Academy.

The East Valley academy offers educational enrichment programs and supports for children with special needs.

Fate – Remastered will be performed at the Tempe Center for Performing Arts – Studio Theatre at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway on both May 1-2. Tickets range from $15 to $45 and are on sale now at

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