2013’s Seven Most Transportive Dance Programs in Pittsburgh


Compagnie Marie Chouinard dancers in "Henri Michaux: Mouvements". Photo by Sylvie-Ann Paré.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard dancers in “Henri Michaux: Mouvements”.
Photo by Sylvie-Ann Paré.

By Steve Sucato

In a year filled with great dance programs in Pittsburgh, here are seven that transported audiences from their seats to worlds away.

Soap Opera (Attack Theatre, Feb. 2-10). Soap Opera mixed dance, mythology and opera music to tell the fictitious story of a terminally ill concert pianist — and his opera-singer lover’s bedside efforts to keep him alive by reading colorful stories aloud. The work transported audiences into the stories, with the characters’ inner lives culminating in a vision beyond the veil.

Pavement (Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Feb. 16). Pittsburgh native Abraham and his New York company re-imagined 1991 film Boyz n the Hood as a dance work set in Homewood and the Hill District. The work took its Byham Theater audience on a moving journey through Abraham’s feelings on violence and genocide within the black community.

Moulin Rouge (Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Feb. 14-17). Choreographer Jorden Morris asked what would happen if two innocent people were dropped into the boiling caldron of decadence, art and bohemian life that was Paris in the late 19th century? The answer was a marvelous ballet full of Parisian history, romance and intrigue, with lots of can-can dancing.

Frequency of Structure and Flow (Gia T. Presents, March 29-30). Gia Cacalano and her international troupe of improvisational dancers and musicians stepped into artist Miguel Chevalier‘s digital-media exhibit Power Pixels 2013. In the process, they took their Wood Street Galley audiences on an otherworldly journey of sound, motion, color and light.

Beth Corning. Photo by Frank Walsh.

Beth Corning. Photo by Frank Walsh.

Remains (CorningWorksJun. 5-9). Veteran Pittsburgh-based dancer Beth Corning teamed with Tony Award-winning physical-theater director Dominique Serrand to create this moving multimedia solo work. The performance transported audiences into a riveting realm of emotional loss, where physical reminders of departed loved ones haunted the living.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Sept. 28)As part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, choreographer Marie Chouinard and her Montreal-based troupe blended drama, nudity and the bizarre in two U.S. premieres, respectively interpreting Henri Michaux‘s visual art and Erik Satie’s music into cutting-edge dance.

The Jazz Furnace (The Pillow Project, Oct. 12). Director Pearlann Porter repurposed an icon of Pittsburgh’s steel-industry glory days into a site-specific dance space on a gargantuan scale: Her Pillow Project unleashed its improvisational “Postjazz” movement style and video wizardry as a day-long extravaganza of dance and music, revisiting some of the troupe’s most popular works.

Pillow Project dancer Taylor Knight. Photo by Pearlann Porter.

Pillow Project dancer Taylor Knight. Photo by Pearlann Porter.

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