2011 was a busy year for modern dance in Pittsburgh. We saw a rise in talent with new companies emerging and young companies expanding. We also saw the city’s oldest dance company, Dance Alloy Theater (once The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy), vanish in front of our very eyes. Hopefully its recent and official merger with the Kelly-Strayhorn will help to bring the group back on the scene.
While it wasn’t possible to see everything, there were definite highlights from January until now. And for 2012, I have three new year’s dance resolutions –
- To see more of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble.
- To get to a Gia Cacalano event.
- To attend an Evolve Productions show.
Wish me good luck.
Early in the year, ‘Tango Inferno’ brought sultry sass to the Byham stage
The Pittsburgh Dance Council broke up their schedule of big name modern dance companies with this fiery group that brought down the house back in February. The stage transformed into a milonga out of Buenos Aires as the dancers formed couples, wowing the audience with fancy footwork and unpredictable lifts. The show was performed with live music by Quatrotango, the company’s touring band.
Attack Theatre returned ‘home’ after a string of site-specific works
Also early in the year, Attack Theatre performed “Show #58” at the place they consider home, the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side of Pittsburgh. In their 15th anniversary season, they knew they had to perform at the place where their career as a company took off. The show featured work from their beginning up to the present, with an ending to show where the company is headed.
The Kelly Strayhorn Theater had a huge year in dance programming
Under the direction of Janera Solomon, who, thank goodness, loves promoting dance, the theater had an incredibly successful year of dance. Among the many performances presented, four in particular stood out.
May brought the annual newMoves contemporary dance festival, with works spanning the country from Seattle to Philadelphia to our own favorites right here in Pittsburgh. Staycee Pearl showed excerpts of her piece “OCTAVIA,” which premiered in its full length later in the year. Her title as resident choreographer of the theater has allowed her to achieve tremendous growth as an artist.
In July, Baker and Tarpaga Dance Project, a company based out of Columbus, fused West African and contemporary dance, and focused the performance on the interracial marriage of the company’s directors. Live African blues music accompanied the dancers.
Pennsylvania Dance Theatre blew the audience away in September with their latest work, ‘por la blanda arena.’ The company, led by Andre Koslowski, performed an emotional evening length work that asked the question – “What makes us unravel?”
The highlight of the KST dance year was Abraham in Motion’s world premiere of “Live! The Realest MC.” Artistic Director and native of Pittsburgh, Kyle Abraham, abstracted the story of Pinocchio in an urban gay setting. The work had tragedy as well as laugh-out-loud humor, and was nothing short of brilliant.
The Pillow Project ‘jazzed’ Paris
Pearlann Porter, Artistic Director of The Pillow Project, found herself with a large anonymous donation late in the year, and an opportunity to collaborate with “jazz poet” Moe Seager in Paris. The company spent four days in the city of lights, performing in the streets and in jazz clubs wherever they could. The trip set the stage for other overseas performances in the future.
Keep a lookout for all of the exciting dance happening in 2012.