Pittsburgh dancer Abraham wins MacArthur award
Kyle Abraham's day began beautifully in San Francisco when his mother called from Pittsburgh to talk about his latest honor for his choreography.
Abraham, 36, who grew up in Lincoln-Lemington, on Wednesday became one of 24 MacArthur Foundation fellows for 2013. The honor, often called the genius award, provides a no-strings-attached $625,000 stipend paid over five years.
“I feel such a wonderful mix of emotions,” he said. “There's part of me that is just beyond relieved to think so many of my worries will be eliminated. I have, I think, over $180,000 in school loans, and it's nice knowing my rent will be paid.
“But part of me thinks about all the choreographers I look up to who don't have this prestigious award. I can't believe I won it.”
Abraham, a graduate of Schenley High School, studied at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School and the Civic Light Opera Academy. He earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts from the State University of New York at Purchase and a master's degree from New York University in New York City, where his company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, is based.
The MacArthur Foundation's announcement called Abraham a choreographer and dancer who probes “the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles that speaks to a new generation of dancers and audiences.”
“With diverse training in music, visual art and dance — and breathtaking skill as a performer — Abraham's highly physical dance vocabulary reflects the youthful energy of the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered in his adolescence, as well as a strong grounding in modern dance technique,” according to the announcement said.
The foundation, established by the late John D. MacArthur, who founded Bankers Life and Casualty Co., and his late wife, Catherine, terms the fellows “extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all.”
Fellowships go to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction,” the foundation says on its website.
Abraham's work is well known in his hometown. His company performed “Pavement” in its debut in the Pittsburgh Dance Council series in February. His 2010 work, “The Radio Show,” developed and premiered during a residency at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty.
“Pittsburgh is my life, even if I'm not currently living there,” Abraham said. “It's my history, how I interact with people. It's all based on being from Pittsburgh, and my work is reflective of that. I make dances that are rooted in my life growing up in Pittsburgh.”
Abraham is rehearsing with the Los Angeles-based BODY TRAFFIC dance group for the premiere of his “Kollide” on Thursday. He's working on his next piece, “When the Wolves Came In,” for a September 2014 premiere.
“Creating comes from the multifaceted elements of who we are. I am a black, gay male and that is my perspective, whether or not all my dancers are black or white, gay or straight,” Abraham said in 2010 while discussing his work.
He'll next perform in Pittsburgh on March 22 for Pittsburgh Dance Council in the Wendy Whelan Project — a show in which the former New York City Ballet dancer presents duets with four leading male choreographers.
Mark Kanny is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- The IRS scandal: Do the Lois Lerner emails still exist?
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Customers anxious for details about Highmark transition plan for W. Pa.
- In last preseason game, a final audition for some Steelers
- McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Jury deliberating sex assault charges against ice cream shop owner
- Annual Rib Festival at Heinz Field promises plentiful good food, music
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought