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Dance Works Rotterdam makes music with the body

| Friday, Feb. 17, 2012

Every art has its medium. Composers create in sound. Choreographers use the body.

Andre Gingras says he has always been fascinated by dance. He is inspired by the danger, beauty and consequences of the body on display.

Three years before becoming artistic director of Dance Works Rotterdam, in the Netherland, Gingras created a work exploring his fascination called "Anatomica III," which debuted in 2007. The Times of London called it "a terrific splurge of vibrant physicality and joie de vivre that sets out to showcase what an amazing miracle the body represents."

Pittsburgh Dance Council will present Dance Works Rotterdam/Andre Gingras performing "Anatomica I" and "Anatomica III" on Saturday at the Byham Theater, Downtown. The event is part of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Distinctively Dutch Festival.

Gingras was born and raised just outside Toronto in a French-Canadian family living in an English-speaking environment. The family moved to Montreal when he was 17.

When he graduated from college at 21, he decided it was "now or never" for dance. He went "hard core" in his dance studies -- three years in Toronto and one in New York City, where he stayed four more years as a young professional dancer.

For the past 14 years, he's made Rotterdam his home and lived what he calls "a double-track life. I have my own core group of dancers for my projects. I also have done commissions for large groups such as Netherlands Dance Theatre and the Rambert Dance Company (based in Chiswick, England). Now (as artistic director of Dance Works Rotterdam), in a way, this allows me to unite those two tracks."

Gingras' "Anatomica" project grew out of work he did in 2003 with the Rambert Dance Company. He imagined a three-part series looking at the notion of the body on display, wondering about why that happens and how that happens.

"When I started, I didn't know exactly what the whole triptych would be," he says. "I had some time to think about what other aspects of it could be."

He began with the third part of his project, deciding to "look at this from the perspective of body as object, a slightly disassociated celebrity. The flip side is the body at its most personal and spectacular. That's why this work has, for me, really split into two sections. It begins with a more distant, Warholian, look at the body -- cooler and more objective. How do we strip the meaning out of something• Then we go to a much more joyful look at the subject, how it is personal, spectacular and wondrous. That's where the evening ends."

The program will open with "Anatomica I," the first work Gingras created after taking charge at Dance Works Rotterdam and which was first performed in May 2011.

" 'Anatomica I' starts with sensual, sexual mating dancing. (It's) how animals behave, with the pheromones' drive -- that smell that charges you up," the choreographer says. "It's a less schematic way of looking at all the things that lead us to show the body."

Additional Information:

'Anatomica I and III'

Presented by: Dance Works Rotterdam

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $19 to $45

Where: Byham Theater, Downtown

Details: 412-456-6666 or

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