By Steve Sucato
Pittsburgh’s newest dance troupe, Geeksdanz, “is on a mission is to introduce dance to audiences that would not normally be drawn to it,” says founder/artistic director Ellen Deutsch. For the group’s first full-length production, Challenge Mode, Deutsch and company aim to bring dance to those with an interest in video-gaming.
A humorous celebration of gamers and gaming, Challenge Mode explores the notion of becoming so immersed in a video game that you no longer see yourself as a player but, rather, as a character in the game. Set to video-game music remixed by the independent composers at OverClocked ReMix, the hour-long work is delivered in a series of short vignettes referencing well-known video games like Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy and the Mario franchise. It’s also a game itself where six competitors vie for a 100 Percent Completion bonus.
Deutsch, a Squirrel Hill native who studied dance at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says the troupe’s name is about her being a “geek” for dance. Says Deutsch: “We all express ourselves in ways that are most natural to us. A gamer might express their excitement over a game in a certain way; we just happen to be dancers who also like video games.”
Geeksdanz presents Challenge Mode, 6:30 p.m. Fri., April 19. Pittsburgh Dance Center, 4765 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $5. The production will also be streamed live at www.geeksdanz.org.
This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper April 17, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.