Dance preview: GRAB Productions to reach new boundaries in dance work

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Four friends who met at the University of Pittsburgh simply wanted to dance together again, but separate careers, limited financial support and tight schedules made this dream seem impossible.

Pure motivation and a contemporary approach to fundraising combatted these challenges, transforming what dancer Greg McCummings originally called a “crazy idea” into a reality.

“Gracefully Reaching Absent Boundaries: A GRAB Productions Dance Showcase” is the first full-length show for GRAB Productions, a group established in 2009 by former Pitt students Riana Manuel, Allison Felton, Brittany Smith and Mr. McCummings.  

‘‍Gracefully Reaching Absent Boundaries: A GRAB Productions Dance Showcase’‍
Where: Kelly Strayhorn Theater, East Liberty.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 years or younger at

The four, who are in their early 20s, first danced together in 2008 at the Black Dance Workshop, a club affiliated with the university’‍s department of Africana studies. Although their dance backgrounds and specialties differed, they shared a passion for the art and an interest in collectively developing an eclectic movement style. 

“This show is a fantastic representation of how we‘‍ve grown,” Mr. McCummings says.

Now GRAB Productions serves as a common thread for the co-founders who work in different industries and no longer live on the same campus. While two still are here, Ms. Felton is based in Maryland and Mr. McCummings plans to move to Atlanta in a few weeks.    

Reflective of the group’‍s multifaceted approach to movement, Saturday‘‍s performance will feature 10 distinct and diverse pieces that will be performed by the four founding members and about a dozen additional artists who auditioned for the project in February. Their style is difficult to summarize in words, Mr. McCummings says, but includes references to jazz, lyrical, hip hop and other genres.

Six of the show‘‍s works were collaboratively choreographed, while the remaining works were personal projects by each co-founder. 

“You can definitely see a little bit of all of us in everything,” he says.

Because the four co-founders were solely focused on having the opportunity to share the stage, Mr. McCummings says that money was never the motivation for the performance. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

To cover facility rental and costuming costs, the group started a campaign on Kickstarter, the online fundraising platform for creative projects. Supporters helped GRAB Productions surpass its original funding goal of $1,111 in less than a month. They earned more than $1,300 in 22 days from 19 donors.

Optimistic for the future of GRAB Productions, the group’‍s co-founders hope to eventually expand their creative collective into a company or studio. 

Mary Hornak: or 412-263-1494.

’‍Gracefully Reaching Absent Boundaries: A GRAB Productions Dance Showcase‘‍

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Kelly Strayhorn Theater, East Liberty.

Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 years old or younger at


Mary Hornak: or 412-263-1494.

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