3 avant choreographers to challenge August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble
The August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble will perform pieces by three modern choreographers this weekend.
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One of Pittsburgh's up-and-coming repertory companies will stage works from three of modern dance's freshest choreographers when the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble presents "The Dynamic Men of Dance ... Celebrating the Black Man" on Friday and Sunday.
The performance will give audiences a taste of what's turning heads on the contemporary dance scene.
"All three of the choreographers are very different ... but at the same time I strongly believe they definitely are our future," artistic director Greer Reed-Jones said. "All of their voices are strong in what modern dance is today."
Staying in touch with what is breaking new ground in dance is a goal for Ms. Reed-Jones, whether she's working with AWCDE dancers or picking pieces for a performance by Dance Alloy, which she also heads.
"The great thing about Greer is that she tries to keep her pulse on what's happening in the dance community," said New York City-based Darrell Grand Moultrie, one of the program's featured choreographers. The Juilliard graduate's Broadway credits include "Billy Elliot," "Hairspray" and "AIDA," and his choreographic talents have been sought after by Ailey II, Colorado Ballet and North Carolina Dance Theatre, among others. He also has set work for Pittsburgh's former Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company.
Ms. Reed-Jones learned about his work online after one of the ensemble's dancers worked with him in New York.
"I thought that was really, really great on her part as a director when you hear your dancers speaking highly about someone and you go investigate," Mr. Moultrie said.
He created a pure dance work called "Regality" for the company. A female dancer also will perform a more narrative solo to a blues song about a woman who is torn in her love for someone.
Another choreographer who isn't new to Pittsburgh is native Kyle Abraham, who studied at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Pittsburgh CAPA School. He landed on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" list in 2009, has showcased work at dance festivals around the world, and directs his own New York company, Abraham.In.Motion. He choreographed an ensemble piece called "Function" for the AWCDE.
"Every time I see Kyle's work I'm always blown away," Ms. Reed-Jones said. He's inspired by "personal stuff that's going on in his life, and he puts that into his movement."
Antonio Brown rounds out the program's trio of choreographers. The Cleveland native graduated from Juilliard in 2007 and joined the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Five dancers will premiere his piece, "Pulse."
"His movement is a little bit more lyrical," Ms. Reed-Jones said. "It's kind of mellow movement, free movement, full body movement."
"I just kind of took [the dancers'] energy and my energy that I have and put them together and out came this work that is ... really powerful and really strong," Mr. Brown said.
The show's lineup is a good fit for Ms. Reed-Jones' budding company. "Because of the three choreographers being so different, it really highlights the company's versatility," she said.
Her mission for the group of young adults from across the country is to give them big-city opportunities -- without the big-city expense and cutthroat competition. "I was really committed to bridging the gap between high school and college and the professional arena," Ms. Reed-Jones said.
Thousands of dancers flock to New York City each year in pursuit of dance careers, only to encounter thousands of others trying to do the same, she said.
"We can have [those opportunities] right here. You don't have to leave Pittsburgh."
First Published January 19, 2011 12:00 am