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The Tweaksters bring their eclectic dance theater act to town

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A master's degree in psychology hasn't led fitness model Julia Snyder to therapy. Instead, she works out her stress in wildly improbable gymnastic feats, performing dance theater and object magic with her partner, Regan Patno. Together, they are the Tweaksters.

Eleven years ago, Patno and Snyder were just two friends who threw things at each other. Now, as an eccentric, captivating performance art team, their dexterity and athletic prowess have amazed audiences worldwide. In one 60-minute performance, the Tweaksters will show what a couple of motion artists can do with ping-pong balls, flowerpots, light-emitting flexible wire and each other's bodies.

Is it kinky? Or just barefoot fun? Local audiences find out Saturday when the Tweaksters take the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center stage, the first performance in a Colorado tour that includes Boulder, Greeley, Fort Collins, Durango and Pueblo.

"It's actually really tough to transport our show," said Snyder in a telephone interview from her California home. "We're renting a cargo van to hold all the, um, equipment."

Since the, um, equipment includes a giant fiberglass ball, torches, stilts, xylophones and pipes, it's good that the Tweaksters have always thrived on challenges.

"We're totally competitive, and we both have this huge appetite for creativity," said Snyder of her cohort Patno. "We met in a dance class. We both grew up immersed in athletics, and when we got into juggling, we wanted to add dance to it."

Snyder and Patno are physical fitness devotees, support physical education programs in schools, and have "tweaked" parts of their act to appeal especially to kids (find out more on the Web; go to

www.tweaksters.com where more than 18 routines are described in detail).

From far-out "Borealis" and "Orbitology" to the more amusing "Passing Wind" and "PotHeads," the Tweaksters' show promises to be a vital mix of motion and manipulation. The performers use clubs, glow balls, meteors, poles, discs and ribbons, and their music ranges from Australian aboriginal to '70s disco, from classical medley to mambo.

The show has been years in the making.

"Our friends were always amazed at how much we would practice, but for us, it was fun. We'd just say, let's go play," said Snyder.

In addition to her psych master's, Snyder has a business degree and has appeared in a multitude of fitness and yoga videos, plus she was named Fitness Model of the Year for Shape magazine.

As a teen-ager, Patno was a series regular on the hit TV show Fame. He has toured with Diana Ross, was a Solid Gold dancer for two seasons, and has appeared in literally dozens of movies, including Forrest Gump and Star Trek Nemesis.

Regarding schedule juggling, Snyder says, "We divide the responsibilities. We both wear lots of hats."

As might be supposed from their eclectic act, the Tweaksters draw their inspiration from a multitude of sources: martial arts, gymnastics, Pilates, yoga and all different kinds of dance.

"It's about joy," said Snyder, simply. "You get it into your head and feel it with your whole body."

-- J.N. Nail

capsule

The Tweaksters

Saturday, March 6, one performance only, 1 p.m.

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.

$7 for all seats, reserved or at the door

Call 634-5583 for reservations.

And

Saturday, March 20, two performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Arts Center Theater, Sangre De Cristo Arts and Conference Center, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo

$6, all reserved. Call 719/295-7222 to reserve seats.

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