The Dynamic Dancing Duo

 

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Arizona Musicfest

Hardly a little girl alive in the 1960s didn’t dream of dancing and singing like Chita Rivera. The tiny, dark-haired dynamite had a high-energy sass about her that captured the imagination of America at a time when dance was becoming a popular language of its own.

During the following decades, television and movies changed how we saw the world and who we aspired to be. In 1957 Chita was cast in Broadway’s “West Side Story,” she catapulted to fame and quickly became the gold standard to which all other aspiring performers would be compared. She could dance, she could croon, she could act—and she had a bold and independent air about her that women were eager to embrace.

In 1965, tall, dark and handsome Tommy Tune broke into Broadway. Like Rivera, he was immensely talented and wooed audiences with his versatile repertoire. In 1978, he added directing and choreography to his credits for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” earning awards and acclaim as a multi-talented musical genius. He would go on to direct and choreograph some of the most beloved musicals ever made.

Though they both became iconic on stage, it was not only their musical and acting talents that defined Rivera and Tune.

Rivera was born in Washington, DC as Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero, the daughter of a Puerto Rican immigrant. She was among the first Latina stars to break into US pop culture. Her mother, Katherine, was a government clerk and her father Pedro Julio Figueroa del Rivero, was clarinetist and saxophonist for the US Navy Band.

Rivera was only seven years old when her father died. Widowed with five children, her mother went to work for the Pentagon and managed to save enough to send Chita to the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet. Chita earned her way to New York, and soon was representing not only herself, but Latina women on stage.

Tune had his own untrodden path to forge. Born in Texas to oil rig worker, horse trainer, and restaurateur Jim Tune and Eva Mae Clark. One of his grandfathers had been killed in a coal mine collapse, while the other was a rancher who died by his own gun. It was an unlikely beginning for someone with his aspirations.

Tune went to high school in Houston, and his talent was evident. He studied dance under Patsy Swayze, who was legendary long before her son Patrick broke into the big screen scene.

Like Rivera, nothing could hold Tune’s natural and honed talent back. He was destined to perform. Their independent rises to fame were more vivacious and bold than fiction could have conceived—and the final chapters of their stories have not yet been written.

Like any true artist or performer, being on stage is not a choice for Rivera or Tune; it’s who they are. Their current tour, “Just in Time,” will kick of Arizona Musicfest’s 27th Annual Winter Festival’s 19-concert series Jan. 26 in what will surely be a sold-out show.

For festival organizers, it’s an honor to host this power duo, who have collectively earned 12 Tony Awards and dozens more recognitions—and found a permanent spot in American iconography.

480-422-8449

azmusicfest.org

27th Annual Arizona Musicfest Winter Festival Schedule

This year’s lineup will keep your toes tapping through March 16! Space is limited so reserve your tickets today!

Jan. 26

Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune:

“Just in Time”

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Jan. 28

Young Musicians Winter Concert

Musical Instrument Museum

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

Jan. 31

Alison Brown Quartet

La Casa de Cristo Church

6300 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix

Feb. 2

The Fab Faux

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 6

Pink Martini

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 8

Michael Feinstein

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 10

The Doo Wop Project

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 12

American Brass Quintet

Musical Instrument Museum

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix

Feb. 16

Lee Ann Womack

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 18

Festival Sinfonia: Vivaldi & Mozart

Pinnacle Presbyterian Church

25150 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale

Feb. 20

Festival Orchestra:

Strauss & Brahms

La Casa de Cristo Church

6300 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix

Feb. 22

Olga Kern with the

Festival Orchestra

La Casa de Cristo Church

6300 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix

Feb. 23

Festival Orchestra POPS!

with Robert Moody & Friends

La Casa de Cristo Church

6300 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix

Feb. 25

Festival Orchestra:

Beethoven & Bernstein

La Casa de Cristo Church

6300 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix

March 1

Doc Severinsen’s Trumpet Kings

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

March 6

Alice Tatum Band

Fairway House at Grayhawk

8620 E. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale

March 9

Papa Doo Run Run

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

March 11

Seamus Egan Project

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

March 16

Decades Rewind

Highlands Church

9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale

azmusicfest.org

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