Dance preview: Texture Contemporary Ballet weaves together mixed repertoire program


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Alan Obuzor is a solution seeker.

When frequent stress fractures to the kneecap kept straining his ability to tackle classical ballet moves, the former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer decided to shift his focus from primarily performing to teaching and choreographing.

And when he wanted to found his own contemporary dance company -- a financially daunting task -- he turned to friends with backgrounds in music, dance and photography to help him launch and staff it.

'BLUR'

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: New Hazlett Theater, North Side.

Tickets: $20 in advance at www.showclix.com or $25 at the door.

Information: www.textureballet.org.

This weekend, Texture Contemporary Ballet, led by Mr. Obuzor and associate artistic director Kelsey Bartman (Nashville Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School), will mark its first anniversary with "BLUR," a mixed repertoire program at the New Hazlett Theater, North Side.

"I wanted to have a place for myself to dance and also for myself to pursue choreography, and also I just felt there's a little bit of a void in the city for contemporary ballet," Mr. Obuzor said. "I felt [Texture] was a good fit to fill that."

Since the troupe's debut mainstage production last July at the New Hazlett, it has spent the past year building its reputation and audience base by performing at events across the city, such as First Night Pittsburgh, "LOVE, etc...." to benefit the American Heart Association and the quarterly "Speaking Of ..." arts series.

So far, Mr. Obuzor is impressed by the response the company has received.

"From dancers and from administrative tech people who just want to help out and audiences, it just seems like there's an overwhelming support," he said. It also has received support from the Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Because many of Texture's dancers also are members of other professional companies, the mainstage performance is scheduled for the summer when most are off. This means five-days-per-week rehearsals precede the production so that dancers can learn and perfect the choreography in the limited time frame. Gigs throughout the year are mounted with smaller groups of dancers based on who's available.

Artists are employed on a project-by-project basis and receive a small payment for their time. It is Mr. Obuzor's hope to one day have a roster of dancers on salary. In the fall, a handful of dancers will be in Pittsburgh to devote themselves full time to Texture's development.

At "BLUR," audiences will be treated to a lineup of nearly 30 dancers with ties to such companies as PBT, BalletMet, Nashville Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Ballet Austin, Richmond Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and Point Park University.

The program will feature a melange of ensemble pieces, as well as works for just a couple dancers. The selections are largely choreographed by Ms. Bartman and Mr. Obuzor, with assists from Gabriel Smith and Catherine Tiso. The closing piece will include live music by Cello Fury.

In the future, Mr. Obuzor would like for Texture to be able to do more large productions in Pittsburgh, in addition to intimate performances and touring engagements.

"I just want to leave people inspired in whatever they do," he said.

theater

Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com.


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