The Pillow Project will present "The Jazz Furnace," a one-day performance event Oct. 12 at The Carrie Blast Furnace that combines improvisational Freejazz dance, large-scale video projections, live music and multimedia installations.
By Jane Vranish
The upcoming Pittsburgh dance season is potentially full of "must see" choreography.
You should bring your hiking boots for The Pillow Project's fall jazz project at the Carrie Furnace and an open mind as Pittsburgh Dance Council begins the highly anticipated International Festival of Firsts with Marie Chouinard's world premiere, then continues with the likes of Brazil's Compagnie Kafig and noted ballerina Wendy Whelan (with hometown favorite Kyle Abraham).
The Kelly Strayhorn Theater has its own festival, newMoves, now in its fifth year, while Point Park's Conservatory of Dance has its own festive season, with Mr. Abraham on view there as well, along with works by George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden and the swan song of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre founder Nicolas Petrov.
There is also an independent spirit brewing in the East End, a groundswell of dance embracing probing young artists as David Bernabo, Jasmine Hearn, Maree ReMalia and Jil Stifel and, as always, grande dame Beth Corning. The most newsworthy item, though, is the demise of the stellar young August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, although founder Greer Reed will carry on the Alvin Ailey tradition under the name REED DANCE.
ATTACK THEATRE: Always on the move, Attack will pack a lot into its fall season, beginning with the choreography for Pittsburgh Opera's "Aida" (Benedum Center, Oct. 12, 15, 18, 20). Then AT gets site-specific at The Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District (Oct. 19), draws "The Chalk Line" in an interactive crime production (Attack's Spring Way Studio, Oct. 25-Nov. 9) and presents "Holiday Unwrapped" (George R. White Studio at Pittsburgh Opera, Dec. 6-7). Take a breath and head for Game Night and the Seven-Minute Dance Series (GRWS, Feb. 7 and May 16), Game Day for Families (New Hazlett Theater, Jan. 12 and GRWS, May 17), a reprise of "The Soldier's Tale" at Pittsburgh Opera with musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony (GRWS, Feb. 23, 26, 27) and Carnegie Mellon University (March 1) and, of course, The Dirty Ball (April 12) at a surprise location. 412-281-3305 or www.attacktheatre.com.
BALLET IN CINEMA: Emerging Pictures has apparently dropped the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and Nederlans Dans Theater and cast its lot with the venerable Bolshoi Ballet. The schedule includes "Spartacus" (Oct. 20 and 22), "Le Corsaire" (Nov. 17 and 19) and "The Sleeping Beauty" (Dec. 15 and 17). All will appear at area Carmike Cinemas. www.carmike.com or www.emergingpictures.com.
BODIOGRAPHY: The company travels to Seton Hill Performing Arts Center for another collaboration with the Westmoreland Choral Arts Society Sept. 29 (www.westmorelandchoralsociety.com), then settles in at the Byham Theater for La Roche College Presents Bodiography's Multiplicity (Nov. 15-16) and "Left Leg, Right Brain (The Frank Ferraro Story)" (Feb. 28-March 1). 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org.
CONSERVATORY DANCE COMPANY: As a highlight of Point Park University's CDC season, former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre founder and artistic director Nicolas Petrov will conclude a long career by re-staging his "Romeo and Juliet" (Pittsburgh Playhouse, Dec. 10-15). But it will be an unusually strong year overall -- CDC also will bring works by choreographic notables George Balanchine, Martha Graham, David Parsons and Dwight Rhoden to its annual program at the Byham Theater (April 17-19) and has a terrific roster on its Contemporary Choreographers program at the George Rowland White Performance Studio with Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham, along with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago alumni Brian Enos and Terence Marling (who also danced with PBT) and Chicago jazz legend Randy Duncan (Nov. 15-24). Also on tap will be Student Choreography Project (GRWPS, Oct. 4-6); Conservatory Dance Company at Point Park University with choreography by Doug Bentz, Kiesha Lalama, Garfield Lemonius, Peter Merz and Ron Tassone (GRWPS, Feb. 21-March 2); and Point Park Connections, featuring original works by adjunct faculty (GRWPS, April 25-27). www.pittsburghplayhouse.com.
CONTINUUM DANCE THEATER: Sarah Parker's claims a slice of Pittsburgh dance at Most Wanted Fine Arts festival (Sept. 28) and Mystery on the Main Stage Fundraiser (TBA, Oct. 19), culminating in CDT's appearance on the New Hazlett Theater's Community Supported Art (CSA) performance series Dec. 14. 412-508-1894.
DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY TAMBURITZANS: The Tammies will be off to Florida later this season, but have a healthy series of performances in the area, including hourlong free performances at Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom (Oct. 13, Dec. 5 and April 25) and full shows at Ligonier Town Hall (Oct. 13); Legacy Theatre in Allison Park (Feb. 16); Upper St. Clair High School (March 22) and Valley High School in New Kensington (March 23). 412-396-5185 or www.duq.edu/life-at-duquesne/tamburitzans.
THE GLUE FACTORY: Always one to deliver delicious concepts, Beth Corning turns to "Recipes Our Mothers Gave Us," with iconic women Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe) and Francoise Fournier (Sweden) at the New Hazlett Theater ( Jan. 15-19). www.corningworks.org or www.showclix.com.
JASMINE HEARN: The former Alloy member has struck out on her own for her latest project, tracing rites of passage experienced by women of color in "that's what she said." Funded by a grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation, it has four sections, with the remaining installments set for Assemble (5129 Penn Ave., Sept. 29) and Bat's Barbershop (5911 Penn Ave., Oct. 27). email@example.com.
KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER: KST launches its dance portion of a varied season with the newMoves festival, always full of surprises, this time from 16 rising and emerging choreographers who include New Yorkers Katie Rose McLaughlin and Marya Wethers, with locals Greer Reed and Annalee Traylor (Oct. 3-5). Also: Fresh Fridays, a new series, with Maree ReMalia, Jil Stifel and Blaine Siegel (The Alloy Studios, Nov. 1); Murphy/Smith Dance Collective's "See What I Hear" (The Alloy Studios, Nov. 15-16) and much more to follow. www.kelly-strayhorn.org.
LIGHTLAB: Dave Bernabo's multi-disciplinary experiment in improvisation boasts a lineup that includes Jennifer Keller, Taylor Knight, Maree ReMalia, Blaine Siegel, Jil Stifel and Mark C. Thompson. Wood Street Galleries (Sept. 20-21). www.woodstreetgalleries.org.
PITTSBURGH BALLET THEATRE: PBT brings back Twyla Tharp in a big way, with "In the Upper Room" and "Nine Sinatra Songs" (Benedum Center, Oct. 25-27) and stretches its repertoire with a world premiere by Victor Plotnikov, the Pittsburgh premiere of Julia Adam's cross-cultural "Ketubah" and an encore of Dwight Rhoden's "Smoke 'n Roses" featuring Pittsburgh songstress Etta Cox (August Wilson Center, March 7-16). Filling out the rest of the season are traditional full-length ballets, all at the Benedum: "The Nutcracker" (Dec. 6-29), "Swan Lake" (Feb. 13-16) and "Don Quixote" (April 11-13). 412-456-6666 or www.pbt.org.
PITTSBURGH DANCE COUNCIL: PDC hooks up with the International Festival of Firsts by co-presenting Montreal's Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Sept. 28) in the world premiere of "Gymnopedies" and the American premiere of Zimmermann & de Perrot's startling brand of circus/movement/theater (Oct. 18-19). The season continues, with a striking lineup, beginning with Brazil's popular hip-hop group, Compagnie Kafig (Feb. 1). Then there are a trio of ballet groups, a real departure for PDC. Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve brings a pair of important emerging choreographers in Andonis Foniadakis and Ken Ossola (March 8), followed by the Wendy Whelan Project, pairing one of the world's finest ballerinas with four contemporary choreographers, including Pittsburgh's favorite son, Kyle Abraham (March 22). Choreographer for both Harry Potter and The Royal Ballet, Wayne McGregor l Random Dance finishes things in a big way with "FAR," featuring composer Brian Eno and a computerized pin board of 3,200 LED lights (April 26). All performances will be at the Byham. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org.
THE PILLOW PROJECT: Pearlann Porter and friends, both dancers and musicians, are gearing up for an exciting improv collaboration, "The Jazz Furnace," with two performances at the Carrie Furnace in Rankin Oct. 12. Leading up to that are The "Secret" Saturday, with excerpts of "Furnace," at The Space Upstairs Sept. 14 and "A Whiskey and a Jazz," with mini-performances at Wigle Whiskey Sept. 30. PP's Second Saturdays, an evolving collection of local and not-so-local artists, resumes monthly events Nov. 9 at The Space Upstairs. www.pillowproject.org.
REED DANCE: Greer Reed is making the transition with small performances to begin: Hot Pink Pittsburgh (August Wilson Center, Sept. 28), newMoves (Kelly Strayhorn, Oct. 5) and Steeler Style Fashion Show (Heinz Field, Oct.11). Look for a monthly event called "The Suit Series" soon.
SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY: SRU dance department heads for Succop Theater at Butler County Community College for its main stage performances, Faculty and Guest Artist Dance Concert (Oct. 20) and Slippery Rock University Dance Theatre (Feb. 7-8). Featured choreographers will be James Washington, former member of August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, and Pilobolus alumnus Mark Santillano. The other events remain on campus, with "60X60" (West Gym Dance Studio, Sept. 26); Department of Dance Fall Concert (Swope Recital Hall, Dec. 7-8) and Senior Synthesis Dance Concert (Swope Recital Hall, April TBA). www.sru/edu.
STAYCEE PEARL DANCE PROJECT: Ms. Pearl connects with the local hip-hop community in her next work, "I'd rather not say" and starts with part one of a related Salon Series, "Say It!" Nov. 15 at PearlArts Studios. She also will present the work of Bre Short and Jasmine Hearn in the PAS Movement Residency Showcase (Nov. 1). www.staycee.com.
TEXTURE CONTEMPORARY BALLET: Watch Texture go "Nearly Wild" at the New Hazlett Sept. 20-22 with composer Blake Ragghianti, turn to the Pittsburgh Dance Center for the WIP Choreography Project (Nov. 23) and then follow "Shades of Light" back to the Hazlett (March 21-23). www.textureballet.org.
Correction, Sept. 16, 2013: An earlier version included the incorrect dates of the Point Park University Conservatory Dance Company's Byham Theater performance. Also, the conservatory will not perform the "Jazz Nutcracker" this year, as an earlier version of this story said.