Contemporary ballet

Texture Contemporary Ballet opens its ninth season with Flying & Falling | Dance | Pittsburgh

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Marc Simpson Photography

Dancers and choreographers Madeline Kendall and Alan Obuzor

Ultramodern dance choreographed to modern pop takes center stage in fly and fall, the first performance of Texture Contemporary Ballet’s ninth season.

New, expanded and reformulated choreography will be performed during the season opener at the New Hazlett Theater July 18-21. The show features choreography by Texture Artistic Director Alan Obuzor, Associate Artistic Director Kelsey Bartman, and dancers Madeline Kendall and Katie Miller.

Texture’s contemporary style is underlined by the musical selections for fly and fall, which, in addition to modern pop, includes classic pieces, intense scores, and more. The opening number, “The Beauty of Flight,” features music from orchestral pop group The Piano Guys, who create mashups like combining Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” with One Republic’s “Secrets.”

“A moment ago, [Bartman and I] decided that we should choreograph to their music – it’s so rich, full and captivating, and so we’re taking this opportunity to do it now,” says Obuzor. “For this piece, we kind of just used the music as a starting point.”

In the second act, Obuzor choreographed his piece “Reshifting Time” to music by Two Steps From Hell, a company that produces songs for movie trailers and TV shows, specializing in intense sound that builds with fervor. Obuzor, who originally choreographed the piece on commission for Madonna’s University, chose the music specifically for its feel, which he describes as “powerful, dynamic and epic”.

The dance has no explicit narrative but involves a solo dancer who gets dragged into and pushed away from a larger group. “[It’s] kinda along the lines of those things in life that grab you and push you, and you make those decisions about what you want to give in to, succumb to, or oppose,” he says.

The show ends with the third act, featuring a 35-minute piece choreographed by Bartman and Kendall. The piece, aptly titled “Hats Off to the Greats,” is a tribute to iconic mid-century film music, including that of Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, the cast of Sing in the rain, and more. The number comes from the Texture choreography project WIP (Works in Progress), which offers shorter performances on a smaller stage. Bartman and Kendall expanded the piece from its original 10-minute length.

The rest of Texture’s next season includes Beatles and Bach in September, a show which, of course, presents a ballet on the music of Bach and the Beatles. A culmination of Beatles and Bach is the symphonic rock band Cello Fury, which will perform an original composition accompanied by selections from the titular musicians. The season will also feature works from the WIP Choreography Project in November and a show titled Personal and powerful in March 2020.