Many of the Pittsburgh’s best dancers and dance troupes put on a PrideFest showcase


Jasmine Hearn. Photo by A. Gleason.

Jasmine Hearn. Photo by A. Gleason.

By Steve Sucato

A highlight of Pittsburgh’s annual PrideFest celebration is its dance showcase, curated each year by local dance aficionado Richard Parsakian. The showcase offers an eclectic mix of local professional dance talent, from ballet to belly dance.

This year’s showcase, part of PrideFest’s free June 16 street fair on Liberty Avenue, Downtown, highlights seven troupes on two stages (at Sixth Street and 10th Street).

One of five troupes that appeared in 2012’s PrideFest dance showcase, Maddy Landi’s aerial-based kNOTDance, returns with its ongoing exploration of what is considered dance. The group’s new 15-minute work has the theme of marital commitment. Also returning are belly-dance-fusion queens Hot Metal Muses with “Silk Road Musings,” a 15-minute work blending folkloric and classical belly-dance movement and music with modern stylization. And dancer/choreographer Jasmine Hearn rolls out part deux of her four-part series “that’s what she said: installment #2.”

Joanna Abel (right) and Patrice Langford (left) from a performance at the  PrideFest 2012. Photo by Colter Harper.

Joanna Abel (right) and Patrice Langford (left) from a performance at the PrideFest 2012. Photo by Colter Harper.

Texture Contemporary Ballet reprises three repertory works, including the playful “Ice Ice,” choreographed by Texture’s Kelsey Bartman and Alan Obuzor. It’s a work for a trio of dancers, each wearing a pointe shoe on one foot and a combat boot on the other. A solo excerpt from Obuzor’s “Can Reality Acutely Create Knowledge?” and Bartman’s solo work “Hurts Like Heaven” round out the nationally recognized company’s contributions.

The Pillow Project‘s Pearlann Porter uses costumes for inspiration for her latest creation, “Combat Boots, Boxing Gloves & Prom Dresses.” Set to what Porter calls “space-age bachelor-pad music” by Pink Martini and Esquivel, the 15-minute comedic work features two male and two female dancers, all outfitted in combat boots, boxing gloves and prom dresses circa 1950s and ’60s. Porter says the work thumbs its nose at gender stereotypes, with performers adopting a contentious “This is who I am, you got a problem with that?” attitude.

The Mechanical Wizzards. Photo courtesy of Brian Starks.

The Mechanical Wizzards. Photo courtesy of Brian Starks.

New to this year’s dance showcase is the Staycee Pearl Dance Project. The troupe will perform “Grrrls and Boyz,” an excerpt from the troupe’s recent production “… on being …”; the work considers gender identification and the complexity of personal relationships. Finally, Pittsburgh breakdance pioneer Brian “BWEAR” Starks’ The Mechanical Wizards reprise one of the crew’s best-known b-boy/boogaloo dance skits, “The Waiter,” with music by DJ Jon Starks.

Pittsburgh PrideFest 2013 Dance Showcase: 1:30-5:45 p.m. Sun., June 16., Liberty Avenue between Sixth and 10th streets, Downtown. Free. pittsburghpride.org.

This article originally appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper June 12, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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