On Sunday the singers and dancers formed a circle, held hands and prayed. It was an unusual start for a performance at the Peirce Studio in the Trust Arts Education Center on the last day of the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. But the spirit was flowing in this collaboration between Reed Dance and 1ne ministry, a gospel group now in its third season.
It was that spirit that connected three main threads -- a tribute to Stevie Wonder, a tribute to Greer Reed’s mother and 1ne ministry’s gospel music. All were interspersed, and without frequent announcements it was hard to identify all of the songs and the participants.
The event might have been loosely bound, but the ensemble atmosphere was tight. Reed Dance was streamlined here, with stalwart veterans Kaylin Horgan and Rebekah Kuczma, plus guest artist and former member of Ailey II, Levi Marsman.
They drifted in and out of various songs with movement that was always smoothly grounded. A beautiful sense of control emanated from the arms and torso, which often led the way. Their eyes seemed to look to the heavens.
Ms. Kuczma had an intense focus in the tribute to Ms. Reed’s mother, who died recently and always inspired the company. Ms. Kuczma circled an empty chair, one that was always filled at performances, as 1ne ministry intoned “They Won’t Go When I Go.”
Then Ms. Horgan and Mr. Marsman turned things around, particularly effective in “Overjoyed,” a duet that created a slipstream of intertwining movement that was light as a whisper. A sixth-grade dance class at Pittsburgh CAPA, where Ms. Reed teaches, added a vibrant sense of joy in a familiar medley of “Wonder”-ful hits.
With its own uplifting sense of purpose, 1ne ministry produced songs, both a cappella and accompanied, with a silky woven blend that provided a carpet ride of music to support the dancers.
It was a program designed to build a community both onstage and in the audience, one that would benefit both groups. To that extent they succeeded. In the finale, in an original song called “Glory to God,” the performers joined together on equal footing, and both song and dance reached to the rafters.
Former Post-Gazette critic Jane Vranish can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also blogs at www.pittsburghcrosscurrents.com.