Elemental Artistry's performers play with fire for a living. Blending the fluidity of dance with a theatrical sense of spectacle, the troupe—which includes an NBTA gold-medalist baton twirler—whirls flaming props into fiery vortexes, dazzling spectators at events ranging from the Tucson Celtic Festival to the sweet sixteens of local volcano gods.
In addition to more than 150 performances since 2007—some of which have earned print and television attention in the Arizona Daily Star and on KOLD News—troupe members teach their craft in workshops and classes that lead students of all ages through movements, such as poi spinning, staff and baton twirling, and hula hooping, using unlit props, at least to start. The art form's constant movement and careful coordination can help to tone muscles, awaken ambidexterity, heighten kinesthetic awareness, and occasionally open interdimensional doorways. Elemental Artistry's dance architects can also develop flame-free spectacles using props ablaze with LED lights.
There’s little left in Tucson to suggest that back in the mid-19th-century the city served as the Southwest’s hub for highway robbers. But it's a fact that the area hosted a string of stagecoach holdups and served as the starting point for Wyatt Earp’s infamous vendetta ride. At the Arizona History Museum, relics stand testament to this harrowed past, including an original Concord stagecoach, not unlike those whose occupants were forced to surrender their valuables to roadside brigands. The museum doesn’t only explore infamy, though; it illuminates all the forces that took part in Tucson’s transition from Paleo-Indian hunting ground to Spanish colonial outpost to the commercial center it is today. Exhibits cover this vast span of time creatively, including a full-size replica of an underground mine that provides a glimpse into early-20th-century working conditions, hands-on exhibits that recall the day-to-day lives of Native Americans, and archaeology displays that detail the surrounding environment's history over the past 4,000 years.
Over the years, the University of Arizona’s athletic teams have been linked together by one phrase: “bear down.” Now the official battle cry of the Wildcats, those were the dying words of an iconic student-athlete, John “Button” Salmon, who died in 1926 after a fatal car accident. Since then, the phrase has stood behind countless milestone moments, such as when Lute Olson, in 1983, became the 11th head coach of the Wildcats men’s basketball team, setting off a string of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances—including a national title in 1997. Several other national titles belong to Arizona outside of the hardwood, including four from the men’s baseball team and eight from the women’s softball program. Every fall inside Arizona Stadium, the Wildcats football team rouses up to 56,000 fans with hard-hitting Pac-12 showdowns, by far the most popular event on campus behind the linguistics department’s weekly phonetics bee.
As the sun rises and illuminates the jagged Sonoran Desert with rose-colored light, colorful hot-air balloons rise into the sky right along with it. This scene occurs seven days a week from September to May during Tucson Balloon Rides' one-hour sunrise floats. Soaring with the morning's easy wind currents, FAA-certified pilot Kevin Wilbur ferries passengers for 10 to 15 miles at altitudes between 500 and 4,000 feet over the cacti forests of Saguaro National Park West and the shrub-covered flatlands of Avra Valley. While gliding over the Tucson Mountains, he also points out important sites as well as deer, foxes, and coyotes. After a gentle touchdown, Captain Kevin and guests enjoy a champagne toast and brunch. If the voyage inspires anyone to become a hot-air-balloon pilot or a cloud, he can also help them earn their private or commercial pilot license with his training program.
Kimberly Aguirre began dancing at the age when most kids are learning to write. She wore her dancing shoes all the way through college, earning five different certifications before light-tripping her way to the head of a dance studio in a local community center. Under her leadership, the studio expanded to a standalone facility and became Pointe of Grace. With a curriculum drawn from Aguirre's extensive background, instructors teach tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop to everyone from adults to teens and toddlers. Her Zumba classes hit the ground running as she infuses the Latin-dance-based class with her shimmying prowess. Students looking for the fitness benefits of functional movement without wanting to feel threatened that the rhythm is going to get them can tone and limber muscles in one of Pointe of Grace’s yoga classes.
Until 2 in the morning, the sounds of billiard balls hang like offbeat commas in the conversations of players leaning on their cues. Of the 18 tables at Pockets Pool & Pub, 10 are regulation Brunswick Gold Crown pocket tables, 6 are coin-operated, and 2 are Spider Elite Carom tables, which are heated to keep balls moving smoothly. Like deserted kangaroo towns, carom tables have no pockets—the game is played based on one’s position against the rails. Every week, the tables host nine-ball, pool, and one-pocket competitions.
The thin, twanging guitar notes of songs from the ’40s drift from a jukebox near the pro shop, which furnishes players with gear. Elsewhere, backgammon pieces and dice click against boards sliced by the characteristic triangles, and players hoist glasses of brews and cocktails over plates of sandwiches and fried snacks.