Dance can take more forms than toe shoes and tutus, or even barefoot modern dancers undulating on a bare stage.
Need convincing? The Pittsburgh Dance Council's 2013-14 lineup will share with audiences a cross section of what choreography can be through a mix of national (Wendy Whelan) and international artists (Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Zimmermann & de Perrot, Compagnie Kafig, Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve and Wayne McGregor | Random Dance), including two U.S. premieres.
"We have such a committed, sophisticated dance audience. One of the great joys or great challenges for me is to find something new," said Dance Council executive director Paul Organisak.
He travels the world sampling shows, but finding something compelling for audiences is only half the challenge. There are fewer organizations and theaters presenting international works, he said.
Sometimes the expense associated with overseas travel, lodging and shipping costumes and scenery is too much for arts groups.
Pittsburgh Dance Council 2013-14 season
Compagnie Marie Chouinard, "Michaux Mouvements" and "Gymnopedies," Sept. 28.
Zimmermann & de Perrot, "Hans Was Heiri," Oct. 18.
Compagnie Kafig, "Correria" and "Agwa," Feb. 1, 2014.
Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve, "Glory" and "Sed Lux Permanet," March 8, 2014.
Wendy Whelan Project, "Restless Creature," March 22, 2014.
Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, "FAR," April 26, 2014.
All performances will be at the Byham Theater, Downtown.
Subscriptions will be available starting Monday at 412-456-6666 and trustarts.org. Individual tickets will go on sale in mid-August.
But he manages to build a season spotlighting some of the hottest contemporary acts from around the world by partnering with other North American arts groups, such as the Joyce Theater in New York and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
"It's a real season of artists who really focus on the complete theatrical experience," Mr. Organisak said.
It will open in September with Montreal-based Compagnie Marie Chouinard. The company's director, for which it's named, is a true "all-around artist," Mr. Organisak said. Her works' inspiration stems from the body and the mysteries of its function and life.
At the Byham Theater, Downtown, the troupe will offer a U.S. premiere as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's International Festival of Firsts, which will bring new works to America. The company's premiere, "Gymnopedies," is set to the piano music of the late French composer Erik Satie. Its other piece, "Michaux Mouvements," was developed from a book of poetry and drawings by Belgian-born artist Henri Michaux.
In October, Zimmermann & de Perrot will bring to Pittsburgh another U.S. premiere, "Hans Was Heiri."
"Over the past few years there's been one presentation on the Dance Council season that pushes the definition or the constraints of what dance is and how we use that word," Mr. Organisak said. Next season, that will be Zimmermann & de Perrot, which pull their artistry from the traditions of dance theater, circus and clowning.
"The European tradition of circus work particularly is much more theatrical and much more narrative in a way than a lot of U.S. circus that we've seen," he said. "They're coming out of lineage all the way back to Charlie Chaplin."
The new year's offerings will kick off in February with Brazilian hip-hop ensemble Compagnie Kafig. The all-male troupe brings street dance and samba styles to the stage, accompanied by upbeat samba and bossa nova music.
Pittsburgh will be treated to two performances next March, starting with Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve. Mr. Organisak describes its work as "lush" and "breathtaking." In addition to its talented pool of performers, the group is known for its artistic collaborations. It will showcase here works by Andonis Foniadakis and Ken Ossola, two rising choreographers on the international contemporary dance scene.
Later in March, acclaimed New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan will share her highly anticipated choreography project "Restless Creature," which will have its premiere this summer at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival.
Ms. Whelan, dubbed "America's most celebrated contemporary ballerina" by The New York Times, has partnered for this project with four emerging male choreographers: Joshua Beamish (MOVE: the company), Brian Brooks (Brian Brooks Moving Company), Alejandro Cerrudo (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) and Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham (Abraham.In.Motion).
"For the audiences to see another Kyle work, and all the choreographers she's using, I really commend her for that sort of support for young choreographers," Mr. Organisak said.
The season will close in April with Wayne McGregor | Random Dance. The British choreographer has etched his place in the dance world with what has been described as a "radical" approach to combining technology, multimedia, electronic sound and more with dance, which he'll demonstrate in the work "FAR."
"He pushes dancers to an extreme, but never in an uncomfortable manner," Mr. Organisak said.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.