Contemporary dance is everywhere in Pittsburgh. Not a week goes by without a show (or two) happening. Although summer is considered an “off-season,” performances happened from June to early September. And now the fall schedule is in full swing, beginning this weekend.
This past spring was the first show, a smaller gathering at The Space Upstairs in Point Breeze. This weekend, for the second installment, Knight and Bernabo chose several artists to present work, which will culminate in two different shows, Friday and Saturday evening.
Of the series' theme, Bernabo says, “The general idea is that Pittsburgh is moving toward experimental dance. Any art form that is going to grow will grow through experimentation, and this will be a venue to do that.”
While Knight’s dance path has been more typical - he graduated from Point Park and began performing right away - Bernabo’s has been more unusual. As a musician, he collaborated with a dance group at CMU several years ago. But more recently, his work with Gia Cacalano and Maree ReMalia had him using his music and movement skills. “I’ve been easing into it,” he says, “but it has been fantastic.”
All of the presenters this weekend are seasoned performers, some local and some national. In choosing each artist, Knight and Bernabo were looking for something they hadn’t yet seen, at least on a local level.
For example, Maree ReMalia will be using the voice more, which isn’t necessarily a new concept, but is pushing her work in a different direction. And Riva Strauss will be presenting a film, rather than performing live.
Combining film and live dance will be local performer, Jil Stifel, who will present a long distance duet with Philadelphia dancer, Emily Sweeney, called “presence - absence.” The two of them meet regularly on Skype, where they improvise at the same time, but in front of their own individual cameras. When they finish moving, they write, then share their writing and video footage. Sweeney then puts the videos together and they look for synchronicity in the movement.
Of the process, Stifel says, “I might imagine Emily’s hand touching me and how that would make me respond...sometimes we’ll be in the same form at the same time, even if she’s on the ground and I’m in a plank position.”
Although the work is fueled by technology, it also takes a high level of consciousness from each dancer. Stifel and Sweeney danced together for seven years in Philadelphia, but now that Stifel is in Pittsburgh, they rely on their memory of each other to create cohesive work. “We’re interested in how the mind or the observer creates reality,” Stifel says.
"LightLab" hopes to continue as a regular performance series, at least four times a year. See below for the lineup and details of this weekend’s second installment.
When: Friday and Saturday, September 20th and 21st at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Wood Street Galleries, Downtown
Cost: $8 per evening at the door (students pay what you can)
Maree ReMalia "slants projected"
Mark C. Thompson excerpts from "flight from himself"
Riva Strauss (film)
Jil Stifel "presence - absence"
David Bernabo (+ 3 photographers) "MODULES 10: archive"
Shantelle Jackson (NYC)