Back from a successful New York show, Texture offers new work at the New Hazlett


Alan Obuzor's "Take... Taken... Taking...". Photo by Catherine Vitale.

Alan Obuzor’s “Take… Taken… Taking…”. Photo by Catherine Vitale.

By Steve Sucato

On the heels of a recent successful performance at New York’s Ailey Citigroup Theater, Texture Contemporary Ballet returns home to the New Hazlett Theater this week for Shades of Light. The program features the premiere of company associate artistic director/resident choreographer Kelsey Bartman’s ballet “This.”

Set to the music of Icelandic composer/musician Valgeir Sigurosson, the 15-minute ballet for five dancers is a response to Sigurosson’s music, says Bartman. “The music is expansive,” she says. “It made me feel like I was on a mountain with sounds echoing around me.”

Bartman says she tried to emulate that sense of echoing in her choreography, which she describes as grounded in classical ballet line but altered to make it unrecognizable.

As for the ballet’s nondescript title, Bartman says: “I usually have a narrative in my head when I am choreographing. This time I just wanted to make something cool from the sounds I was hearing in the music.”

Alan Obuzor's "Take... Taken... Taking...". Photo by Catherine Vitale.

Alan Obuzor’s “Take… Taken… Taking…”. Photo by Catherine Vitale.

Artistic director and resident choreographer Alan Obuzor’s “Take … Taken … Taking …,” which the company premiered at Ailey Citigroup, is one of two works on the program Obuzor created with the support of artist residencies at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

The ballet began a few years back as a solo work, entitled “Taken.” It was set to one of three movements from composer Philip Glass’ “Violin Concerto No. 1.” Obuzor says from the outset he meant to choreograph to the remaining movements of the concerto, and that the New York tour was the impetus he needed. Also for five dancers, the 25-minute neo-classical ballet is “in tune with the moving quality of Glass’ music,” says Obuzor. A review of the ballet’s New York premiere on danceviewtimes.com described Obuzor as “a very appealing dancer” and his solo in the ballet as “a tour de force of controlled energy.”

The final work on the program is Obuzor’s most recent offering, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” which premiered in February as part of the Kelly-Strayhorn’s Fresh Works series. Another abstract ballet for five dancers, the piece explores themes of reflection, and will be danced to contemporary soul and jazz standards performed live by Anqwenique Wingfield.

Alan Obuzor's "Take... Taken... Taking...". Photo by Catherine Vitale.

Alan Obuzor’s “Take… Taken… Taking…”. Photo by Catherine Vitale.

Texture Contemporary Ballet performs Shades of Light, 8 p.m. Fri., March 21; 8 p.m. Sat., March 22; and 2 p.m. Sun., March 23. $20-25. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square, North Side. 888-718-4253 or textureballet.org

This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper March 19, 2014. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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