U.S., world premieres highlight upcoming Pittsburgh Dance Council season
The 2018-19 Pittsburgh Dance Council season highlights the voices of female choreographers.
Although there is an abundance of female performers, women have historically been underrepresented in positions of artistic leadership. The namesake companies of Deborah Colker, Yabin Wang, Jessica Lang and Camille A. Brown; and Paul Taylor Dance Co. will combine an evening of Taylor masterworks with a commission by former company member Lila York.
“The Pittsburgh Dance Council provides a window to the world for dance audiences in our region. My goal as director is to ensure that this window is open to everyone and that it has the best and broadest view possible. I strive to create seasons that build on an existing appreciation for dance and movement while providing an opportunity for us to explore and challenge our assumption by showcasing the diversity that exists in dance,” said Randal Miller, director of dance programming and special projects for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “The founders of each of the companies on this season are considered visionaries for their contribution to shaping and reshaping how we experience dance. Individually they represent excellence, and collectively they demonstrate the value of opening the conversation to include more voices.”
The performances will take place in Pittsburgh at the Byham Theater (101 Sixth St.) and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture (980 Liberty Ave.), both located in the Cultural District.
The lineup includes:
Deborah Colker, Cão sem Plumas, Oct. 6, Byham Theater
Rio de Janeiro choreographer Colker has redefined the rules for what can be done in dance. She was catapulted to the world stage with her visual spectacle dance at the Rio 2016 Olympics. A Laurence Olivier Award-winner for Outstanding Achievement in Dance, she received international acclaim for her choreography of Cirque du Soleil's Ovo. The company's newest work in its U.S. premiere takes inspiration from a poem by Brazilian writer João Cabral de Melo Neto. Cão sem Plumas, or Dog Without Feathers, is set in the beautiful yet impoverished Capibaribe River Region in Brazil. Tension between the elite and the river people come to a head as the dancers cover themselves with mud. Projections by critically acclaimed filmmaker Cláudio Assis were filmed over a month when the entire company traveled to the river.
Yabin Wang, The Moon Opera, Nov. 3, Byham Theater
One of the most promising and pioneering choreographers in contemporary dance in China, Yabin Wang's work was commissioned by English National Ballet and was performed by the company at Sadler's Wells for their prestigious She Said series. Westerns know her best for her incredible dance in the film “House of Flying Daggers.” In her newest work, Moon Opera, she has collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of award-winning designers and composers to unveil a dramatic modern-day story of an artist. This performance is part of the 2018 Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.
Jessica Lang Dance, Lyric Pieces, The Calling, Glow, Sweet Silent Thought, Thousand Yard Stare, Jan. 26, 2019, Byham Theater
Jessica Lang Dance combines exquisitely constructed choreography with striking visual design to the effect of one resounding word: gorgeous! Astoundingly beautiful and emotionally moving, the company will present five unique works. Her signature piece, The Calling, features a solo dancer costumed in a giant white skirt that cascades down and pools widely out onto the stage.
Paul Taylor Dance Co., Continuum (choreography by Lila York), Feb. 23, Byham Theater
Dance maker Paul Taylor continues to shape the homegrown American art of modern dance that he has helped define since he became a professional dancer and pioneering choreographer in 1954. After 60 years as artistic director of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, he has begun commissioning a new generation of choreographers to make dances for his company so that modern dance flourishes long into the future. The evening presentation will include classic Paul Taylor works alongside a new work, Continuum, by former company dancer Lila York. Since her days as a staring dancer with the company, she has gone on to choreograph critically acclaimed work for top companies such as American Repertory Ballet and The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble.
Camille A. Brown, ink, March 9-10, August Wilson Center
Camille A. Brown is a prolific black female choreographer whose work examines the cultural narrative of African American identity. A Jacob's Pillow Dance Award-winner and Guggenheim Fellowship-recipient, her bold work taps into both ancestral stories and contemporary culture to capture a range of deeply personal experiences. Drawing on historic and contemporary rhythms and rituals of the African Diaspora, ink examines the culture of black life that is often appropriated, rewritten, or silenced. Stunning modern dance melds with pedestrian interactions in poignant vignettes about Black superpowers. The work will be performed with live music that blends blues, hip-hop, jazz, and swing. This performance is presented in partnership with the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
Ballet Trockadero De Monte Carlo, Mixed Repertory, April 13, Byham Theater
Returning to Pittsburgh after its sold-out show in 2013, the Trocks is drag ballet at its finest. The visionary company of all male dancers has elevated drag to the concert stage like no other. Presenting a playful, entertaining view of traditional, classic ballet in parody form, the company has performed in 34 countries and 600 cities worldwide since its founding in 1974. The highly comedic work exaggerates the foibles, accidents, and underlying incongruities of serious dance. Delicately balancing on toes as swans, sylphs, water sprites, and romantic princesses, the male ballerinas delight and amuse.
Single tickets for the 2018-19 Pittsburgh Dance Council season will be available at a later date at TrustArts.org/DANCE, 412-456-6666, or in person at the box office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave. To subscribe, call 412-456-1390.