If two people went into identical kitchens, with matching ingredients, and cooked the same recipe, would each dish turn out the same? Definitely not, says Beth Corning, director of the local dance-theater company, CorningWorks.
Corning’s latest piece, “Recipes Our Mothers Gave Us,” explores this idea abstractly, and takes it even further. What metaphorical meals are we passing down to our peers and to our children? Do the ingredients change from culture to culture?
In an hour-long trio, Corning and her partners will stir their pots with literal kitchen utensils at individual cooking stations on stage. The cast includes Corning, whose career has spanned multiple decades, Francoise Fournier, a French-Swedish dancer, and Maria Cheng, a Chinese choreographer, playwright and actor.
Having been raised in three very different communities, the women were curious if they’d been taught the same recipes for success. Sure enough, some ingredients were the same.
“We touched on the things we were told would make us happy - behaving properly, men, money, marriage, kids,” Corning says. Many of the lessons they were taught did not turn out, but each found their own unique seasoning.
As a parent and teacher, Corning realizes how much power our words and messages have. “A student I once taught told me she remembered something I said decades ago,” she says. The conversation made Corning pause, and think about what she was passing on.
One commonality the performers share is their age. “Recipes...” is the fifth Pittsburgh production of the Glue Factory Project, which brings together renowned artists over 40.
“When I work with older dancers, or actors, they bring such a wealth of information in their every cell,” Corning says. “Most aging dancers think they have to overcompensate. On the contrary, a simple gesture can be far better than 30 pirouettes.”
Sometimes Corning chooses the artists; at other times the process has been more serendipitous. Corning remembers an impressive performance of Fournier’s in Sweden in 1982. When they ran into each other a few years ago in Stockholm, Fournier expressed interest in working together.
Cheng met Corning in Minneapolis, where they both had notable careers. “Maria did a solo show that was really memorable,” Corning says. “Her movement is beautiful, so weighted and knowledgable.”
Because the cast is international, they didn’t have much time to work together. Fournier spent two weeks in Pittsburgh and worked with Corning for eight-hour days. When Cheng arrived, the piece had been generally mapped out. They worked together for a week, with equal intensity.
About the finished product, Corning says, “I just want people to come and experience it. Everyone will interpret it differently. The theme may not touch you, but the performers will.”
When: January 15th - 19th (Wednesday at 7:00 p.m., Thursday - Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.)
Where: The New Hazlett Theater, on the north side of Pittsburgh
Cost: $30 general admission, $25 senior/student, Sunday is “Pay What You Can”
Reserve tickets HERE, or call 412-320-4610
***Each performance will be followed by a “tasting event” featuring local chefs.
Wednesday: Jamilka Borges and Sarah Thomas from Bar Marco
Thursday: David Russo from the International Culinary School
Friday: Michael Chen from Tamari
Saturday: Chaz, the Culinary Artist
Sunday: Roger Levine and Brittany Kerr from the International Culinary School