After five years of presenting the newMoves Dance Festival, one thing is obvious: The Kelly Strayhorn Theater has infused experimental movement forms into its festival and subsequent season lineups to become a primary force for change.
Local artists have dug deeper to become more adventurous, while audiences are gradually becoming more open to often-daring programming.
The three-day event featured the reincarnation of the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble as REED DANCE. With only two weeks together and two returning dancers out of nine, they barely missed a step in Christopher Huggins' power-packed "Chaos."
The Pittsburgh contingent filled half of the 17 choreographic slots. Among them, STAYCEE PEARL dance project had super cool vestiges of hip hop creeping into "Encryption Cipher Variations," her latest inspiration, but was dominated by larger-than-life film images, also by Ms. Pearl.
Gia Cacalano created a spare winter landscape with her improvisations in "Still Life," and emerging artists Jasmine Hearn and Anthony Williams made an impression, she with her continuing investigation into race, gender and culture in "mama, am I clean yet?" and he with a committed "Back to Black."
One-third of the submissions consisted of duets, perhaps due to restrictions in the current economy. There was a rare male duo from Gierre Godley (New York), whose "3 Breaths" had some fine floor work. And New Yorker Mana Kawamura's "cloud" was particularly luminous, a lighter-than-air piece where the movement exchanges echoed the positive and negative space found in the finest artwork.
With 17 works presented in various stages of the creative process over three days, newMoves also stimulated ongoing conversations in addition to the dance, a real plus for a mostly silent art form.