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New works in spotlight on Labco's dance floor

| Thursday, April 18, 2002

For one weekend every spring, the South Side headquarters of Labco Dance morphs into a dance club.

Not the kind where industrial-strength sound systems play the Chemical Brothers at a brain-rattling volume, but a chairs-and-coatroom hangout where friends and fans gather to see the latest work by aspiring Martha Grahams and Alvin Aileys.

For its sixth annual "New Works" concert, Labco gives the floor to emerging and established artists in the city's extended modern dance family, with a bill that includes works by Attack Theatre, Dance Alloy and Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company.

The presentation will be Friday and Saturday at Yoga Sadhana Studios on the South Side. Labco's third-floor rehearsal and performance space has become one of the linchpins of a healthy independent dance scene that also includes the Kelly-Strayhorn Performing Arts Center in East Liberty, Helios Arts in Shadyside and the Dance Alloy's Neighborhood Dance Center in Friendship.

Technically, it's not all new work, but no one could say it's not diverse.

"I think a great part of it is all of us together and how we deal with each other and how we work with each other," says Labco co-artistic director Evelyn Palleja-Vissicchio. "The reality is that you have to work well, and work well together. The goal is not to be selfish but to think about the whole community. When you do that, you only end up with more."

For "New Works," Labco dancer Jil Stifel choreographed "Thick as Thieves," while new Labco dancer Adrienne Barr contributes a new piece titled "Unaccompanied."

Stifel will dance a duet with Attack Theatre's Michele de la Reza from Attack's December show, "This Ain't the Nutcracker." Staycee Walters, the new artistic director for Xpressions Contemporary Dance, choreographed "Thangs Vivrant," a slyly humorous nod to old-school hip-hop where she deliberately flouts the academic rules of choreography, which she calls "the 101 dance things you don't do."

Jennifer Keller, ex-Dance Alloy dancer and a faculty member at Slippery Rock University, will dance "Palm," a multimedia solo she created with Troika Ranch in New York City. Choreographer Karen Dacko will present "Blind Faith."

Labco sails into the summer with three new members, including Barr, Rebecca Brenner and former Washington, D.C., resident Kimberly Hope Jewart. The three are filling vacancies left by the departure of Labco dancers Lesley Gillespie and Kelley Krepin-DeFade.

The latest incarnation of Labco can only benefit from the new members, says Palleja-Vissicchio, who also is out of the lineup because she is pregnant.

"More than being a hassle or challenge, it's going to be exciting for us to have a new source of energy, new input to bring into the company to keep us growing," she says. "I feel like this season, with the new works and the fall program, that Labco is trying to raise the bar. We're at a level where we're competitive, measuring up to other companies in other cities."

'New Works Series VI'


  • Presented by Labco Dance.
  • 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • $10.
  • Yoga Sadhana Studio, 1113 E. Carson St., South Side.
  • (412) 394-3353.

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