Dance

Ryan Collerd / Pew Center for Arts & Heritage via Point Park University

 

On today's program: Point Park University celebrates black dancers; Gov. Wolf’s ambitious carbon goals don’t really square up with pushing for a boom in petrochemicals; agriculture is a major industry in Pennsylvania, but it faces serious challenges; and Airbnb is changing the hospitality game in Pittsburgh.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

In 11 years as executive director of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, janera solomon changed more than just the prominence of that East Liberty performing-arts venue. She profoundly altered the Pittsburgh arts scene.

Photo by Andrew Weeks / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Choreographer KT Nelson said that before she could create a dance work about a legendary religious pilgrimage, she literally had to walk the walk. 

Photo by Heather Mull / Courtesy of off the WALL productions

Moriah Ella Mason grew up as a queer Jew in a conservative, Christian town in Westmoreland County. She felt, needless to say, isolated in Trafford -- and for a long time she simply denied her queerness.

As an adult artist, however, Mason found inspiration in places that some might find surprising: Jewish folklore and sacred texts, like the Torah. Her new dance work, “Queer, Jewish: Dancing in Diaspora,” explores the way Jewish and queer identities can intersect in such sources.

Photo by David Bernabo

People have been predicting the death of hand-written letters at least since the birth of the telephone. And over the past couple of decades, the rise of e-mail and social media hasn’t done any favors for the art of the epistle.

But Maree ReMalia – herself a life-long writer of letters – is curious what that latter change has meant. Along with New York-based multimedia artist Gigi Gatewood and Washington, D.C.-based performer Lillian Cho, the Pittsburgh choreographer has created “A Letter Compiled From All Letters,” a multi-disciplinary dance work that explores the issue.

Photo by Barbara Weisburger / Photo courtesy of STAYCEE PEARL dance project

Fans of novelist Octavia Butler love her explorations of alternate realities for what they say about the complex world we actually live in. In Pittsburgh, Butler aficionados include choreographer Staycee Pearl, who this week debuts her second work inspired by the late Butler’s writings.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Fringe

First thing to know about this year’s Pittsburgh Fringe: don’t go looking for it on the North Side, where it's been held for the past couple of years.

HDAT 1
Eric A. Smith / Hill Dance Academy Theatre

 

A number of well-known cultural icons have emerged from the Hill District—August Wilson, George Benson and Mary Lou Williams, to name a few. But when it comes to the art of dance in recent years, one company comes to mind.

Photo by Andrew Jordan / Courtesy of The Blanket

Christopher Williams has long been fascinated by the stories of martyred saints. He is especially captivated by Legenda aurea, or Golden Legend, a lushly illustrated collection of hagiographies first compiled in the 13th century by the Italian chronicler, Jacobus de Varagine.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes / Image courtesy of Cynthia Oliver

The range of behavior our culture acknowledges as masculine might include both good and bad, but it’s still not very wide. So says Cynthia Oliver, a nationally-known choreographer based in Illinois

Courtesy of Danseur

Dance studios across the United States are brimming with bunheads dreaming of crossing the stage at Lincoln Center, but guests would be hard pressed to find any boys among them. 

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

This fall will be a good time to be an arts patron in Pittsburgh. 

Courtesy of Bill Shannon

Maybe you know how Bill Shannon feels: addicted to your newsfeed, feeling constantly pressured to keep up, all day long.

“You wake up in the morning and you check your Twitter feed and then you look at your Facebook and your Instagram, and you're literally like feeling crushed, you know,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson Photography

Over its 24 years, adventuresome dance troupe Attack Theatre has staged productions in some unusual places: outdoor plazas, old industrial spaces, a gallery at the Carnegie Museum of Art. But its latest venue is probably a first: a former Office Depot at The Waterfront shopping complex in Homestead.

Dr. Robert Kromos / Attack Theatre

Jimmy Cvetic’s poetry is rough, dark and punchy.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Deb Schmersal glides around the floor, holding hands with her partner, Jeffrey, as they dance. Their moves aren’t perfect, but that’s not the point at Yes, You Can Dance!

The organization, founded in 2011, uses dance to promote wellness for people with special needs, chronic degenerative diseases and disabilities.

Over the past six years, it has grown and blossomed with the help of some dedicated volunteers, including Schmersal.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Ballet is often praised for its precision, strong dancers and hypnotic music. But one thing that’s often overlooked is the costume department.

“Well, when you’re dancing, you have a certain structure about your dancing,” said Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer Amanda Cochrane. “But when you put on those costumes, it really helps to bring out the artistry in your dancing. It makes you – puts your into character.”

Those costumes help bring the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s productions to life.

Hannah Altman

Since she was two, Alexandra Bodnarchuk wanted to dance.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

One visiting "Cabaret" performer spent Thursday prepping not for the night's performance but teaching local theater students the finer steps to a dance career.

Musical theater and drama students at CAPA, Pittsburgh’s creative and performing arts magnet school, spent the afternoon learning some of the show’s choreography from Aisling Halpin, who plays “Frenchie” in the production.

Matt Dayak

Kelly Beall and Matthew Buccholz love a good dance party, but they’re not interested in staying up late just to shake a tail feather.

The solution: the monthly In Bed By Ten dance party at Spirit Lodge in Lawrenceville.

“We have a lot of friends who don’t want to wait until 11 p.m. to start the evening, so we came up with this idea that guarantees you’ll be home and most likely in bed by 10,” Beall said. “We even give you a Netflix recommendation for when you get there.”

As the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced Thursday it would be entering the public phase of a $20 million school expansion project as it prepares to end its 45th season.

So far, PBT has raised $13.6 million in an effort to expand its campus in the Strip District and Lawrenceville, grow its $8 million endowment by 50 percent and establish an innovation fund to keep programs and performances going.

Dance Africa, Promoting Cultural Heritage through Dance

Apr 25, 2014
Legacy Arts Project / Facebook

Thirty-seven years ago choreographer Dr. Charles Davis founded Dance Africa in New York City. The festival of dance, based in African cultures has since become the largest celebration of African Dance in the country.

The festival is in Pittsburgh at the August Wilson Center for its third year, in collaboration with the Legacy Arts Project, where Pittsburgh residents can learn the artistic traditions of the African Diaspora.