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Gia Cacalano taking risks in two upcoming performances of ‘Frameworks’

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“I like to take risks as an artist,” says dancer and improvisor, Gia Cacalano. “I find it exciting, and get a super charge from it.”

When Cacalano decided to form a local dance troupe, separate from her work with international artists, she didn’t hold an audition, as most directors would. And she didn’t hand select her dancers, like elite groups often do.

Instead, Cacalano put out a social network blast, informing her Facebook friends she was looking for dancers. Quickly, her inbox filled with several responses. Five of those performers were able to rehearse the day Cacalano proposed.

I asked Cacalano why she would take such a risk in not holding an audition. “I hate the audition process,” she says. I think it’s very odd. So many people are overlooked, and you don’t see their full potential.” Instead, she wanted to figure out how to work with what she had been given, like a puzzle. And she says she has not been disappointed.

The group of five has a healthy mix of experience levels and technical abilities. Kelley DeFade and Gretchen Moore were both company members for Labco Dance, a professional company that has since closed its doors. Joanna Reed studied dance at Ohio State University and recently performed with Cacalano’s improvisational group. Sarah Bauer has a background in dance, but also in massage, yoga, and reiki. Alexandra Salerno is experienced in dance, as well as musical theater.

The cast has been rehearsing every Sunday in anticipation of two upcoming shows. Cacalano was chosen as the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater’s Next Stage Resident, along with NYC dancer, Mana Kawamura. They will each be given a week at the Alloy Studios before presenting their 30-minute works-in-progress.

Just a week after that informal showing, Cacalano will present the full-length version of the piece, “Frameworks,” at the Wood Street Galleries. Although the material will stem from the same inspiration, the choreography will change a bit from location to location. Cacalano’s work is always informed by the space in which she presents.

At the Alloy Studios, the cast will be working with pieces of paper, a large sheet, and the white wall at the back of the space that spans the width of the room. At the Wood Street Galleries, the group will perform alongside the current art installation, by Erwin Redl. Redl uses LED light grids in his latest creation, “Speed Shift.”

The movement themes are loose, open to interpretation. Initially, Cacalano was influenced by a personal tragedy in her life. But because she is interested in more universal messages, the piece doesn’t follow an individual narrative. “The girls bring their own experiences,” she says. “There’s still emotion, but the audience can connect.”

In both spaces, the group will use music by Laurie Spiegel (a pioneer of electronic music) and Jeremy Greenspan, a younger musician who was influenced by Spiegel. Cacalano normally works with live musicians, so piecing together different recordings will be an exciting challenge for her.

Of the newness of her choreographic process, Cacalano says, “I like difficult situations and I seem to move forward in that way. If it’s easy, I get bored, then lazy. That’s not my energy or personality. I thought it would be interesting to work differently.”


Next Stage Dance Residency

Saturday, February 1st at 8:00 p.m.

The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., in Friendship

Tickets are $10, HERE, or at the door

Wood Street Galleries

February 7th and 8th at 8:00 p.m.

601 Wood St., Downtown

Tickets are $20, or $15 for students and artists, reserve by emailing Cacalano:


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