Preview: Dance group will engage in different kind of conversation

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Communication is key to any relationship. But what happens when someone isn't able to hear it?

In the literal sense, dancers Jamie Murphy and Renee Smith have encountered this with each other and with family. Ms. Murphy has some hearing loss in her left ear.

"Conversations can get funny because we couldn't always hear each other," she said.

Ms. Smith's grandfather's hearing was damaged while serving in World War II.

"Throughout time, our family has had to come together and find new ways to engage him in conversation," Ms. Smith said.

'See What I Hear'
Where: Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, East Liberty.
When: 8 tonight and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $20; $15 for residents of 15206; $10 for students and artists at or 412-363-3000. Saturday matinee is pay what you can.

The dancers, who head the Pittsburgh-based Murphy/Smith Dance Collective, combined these and other experiences with sound for their new show "See What I Hear," which premieres this weekend at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty.

Human experiences, instinct and the body have been regular inspiration pools for the pair of dancers, both Point Park University graduates. In the collective's nearly two years, it has produced works related to the skeletal system, moving forward versus being stuck in life, and a true crime story.

"We want the audience to have a connection with what we're doing," Ms. Murphy said.

In their latest piece, noises are added to and subtracted from the soundscape to explore how they impact an environment. The result can be a sense of safety, fear or danger, Ms. Murphy said, or perhaps the sounds spark certain memories.

But hearing isn't essential to enjoying the performance. Dancers will sculpt shapes with their bodies inspired by the score. Other times they'll use their bodies to make the sounds. Some parts of the program are staged in silence.

Lighting and projections also will fill the stage with colors and images, creating a multimedia experience and the group's most elaborate set, Ms. Smith said.

Something else a bit different for the collective will be the incorporation of theatrics and speaking in the show, coloring the evening with a dance theater aesthetic.

"We hope people will start to hear and see sounds in a little bit different way," Ms. Smith said, "and how to connect with humanity without simply talking."



Sara Bauknecht: or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.

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