This past year brought even more modern dance to the Pittsburgh scene. Young companies continued to grow, while brand new choreographers emerged. We need these new artists at a time when staple companies like the Dance Alloy, and Labco Dance have dismantled.
Last year at this time, I made three New Year’s dance resolutions, and I am happy to report that I made them all. I finally got to a Continuum Dance Theater show. Watching these fierce dancers made me realize that the company holds a unique place in our community.
I also made it to a Gia Cacalano show. My only wish is that I could see more of her. The performance made my top ten, detailed below.
Lastly, I was able to see more of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. It comes as no surprise that Dance Magazine deemed them one of the top 25 companies “to watch.” They also made my list this year.
Regrettably, I had to miss the incredible Akram Khan. And as usual, my schedule was too packed to attend any ballet.
Among many wonderful modern dance performances, here are my top ten of 2012.
1. Bloom! Dance Collective: The Kelly Strayhorn Theater hosted this Hungarian company in their annual newMoves Dance Festival. In “CITY,” the group brought attention to the issue of immigration, using incredible wit and humor. Their nearly perfect blend of movement and theater put them on the top of my list.
2. “Last Touch First”: The Pittsburgh Dance Council presented this collaboration between Jiri Kylian and Michael Schumacher. The slow motion performance, envisioned as an old parlor scene, proved visually stunning and completely engrossing.
3. “Drenched” by Luke Murphy: The Kelly Strayhorn Theater hosted Murphy, a Point Park graduate who now splits his time between NYC and his native Ireland. This honest and beautiful duet about romantic relationships impressed me with its heavy dose of realism, at times hilarious, but mostly moving.
4. Dance Works Rotterdam: Based in the Netherlands, this company came to Pittsburgh for the “Distinctly Dutch Festival.” Their piece, “Anatomica,” used movement, theater, acrobatics and free running in a satirical take on sexual seduction.
5. “Private Places”: Philadelphia company, idiosynCrazy, transformed the Alloy Studios into the inside of an airline cabin where flight attendants (the dancers) seemed to have gone mad. With sparse movement inspired by J-Setting, choreographer, Jumatatu Poe, created a relatable and haunting piece about human relationships.
6. “BLINK” by Gia Cacalano: This multimedia dance “happening” took place at the Wood Street Galleries downtown, in collaboration with an installation called “In Transit.” The completely improvised show worked well because of the sophisticated ability of the dancers. Cacalano doesn’t perform often; see her when you can.
7. “Dynamic Women of Dance”: The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble brought in four female choreographers to set work on the company. The dancers proved they are capable of any style, from the theatrics of Sidra Bell, to the athleticism of Camille A. Brown.
8. Jazz World Dance Festival: This collaboration between Point Park University and Giordano Dance Chicago lit up the Byham Theater with a new spin on an old style. Many companies performed, including our own Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. The enthusiasm of the crowd confirmed the success of this four day event.
9. “Holiday Unwrapped”: Attack Theatre brilliantly created this non-Nutcracker holiday event for the entire family. The 35 minute show was just about right for a kid’s attention span, yet could be appreciated by anyone from age two to ninety-two. How they did that, I’m not sure. In classic Attack fashion, creative and fun games were also provided – not just for children, but for our adult inner child as well.
10. Streb Extreme Action: Elizabeth Streb, the “action architect” of this renowned company, presented “Forces” as part of the Pittsburgh Dance Council season. These daredevils wowed the audience in their death defying stunts.