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New Hazlett includes four dance performances in an eclectic new CSA season

Jil Stifel, Ben Sota, and dancers in rehearsal
Jil Stifel, Ben Sota, and dancers in rehearsal
Jil Stifel

Next month begins the 2nd season of the New Hazlett Theater’s CSA program. The “Community Supported Art” is a creative take on the popular farm-share model, with fresh and local performers every other month throughout the season.

René Conrad, Executive Director of the theater, said she was aware of a concept in Minneapolis, and that she began the program at the same time as a visual art model right here in Pittsburgh. She compared the idea to getting an unknown vegetable in our food basket. We might not choose a rutabaga at the grocery store, but once we have it, we are pleasantly surprised by its goodness.

One perk of becoming a “shareholder” is the price point. At just $100 for six shows (and the final show is a double feature), audience members can feel comfortable with the cost even if they cannot make each performance.

After one successful season, the feedback was positive. Conrad received multiple emails from subscribers about how much they loved a particular show. While we may not know what we are going to get (broccoli? performance art?), the willingness to go for it is half the fun.

The other half is the high-level performers that are selected to present, and the well-rounded program that includes interesting music, dance, performance art and theater. Conrad said the season normally shapes itself in a balanced way.

Interested performers apply on January 1st. A panel of artists, all of whom have presented or worked at the theater, consider the applicants. A scoring system is used to narrow it down. Then, interviews are conducted to get a better feel for whose work is most conducive to the space. For 2014-2015, they chose seven artists; two will share an evening next June.

To kick off the season, Federico Garcia-De Castro will perform two piano compositions, one a premiere commissioned specifically for the CSA.

On the theater side, performance artist, Jennifer Myers, will pull together six site-specific works for the traditional proscenium space. Anya Martin, a CMU directing graduate, will present a devised work that deconstructs the legendary John Henry and explores “the human behind the folklore.”

As always, the theater will support several innovative dance projects. Moriah Ella Mason will investigate animals and the natural world in a group piece called Contained.

Jil Stifel and Ben Sota will collaborate on a piece that combines contemporary dance with contemporary circus. Stifel received an artist opportunity grant to study the German wheel with Chris Delgado in New York.

Lastly, Teena Marie Custer and Roberta Guido will share an evening of dance. Custer is a seasoned hip-hop dancer who will examine the social network personas we create. Guido graduated from CAPA and will use improvisational movement to explore the effect of touch on humans.

To subscribe to the CSA, click HERE. Show dates are as follows (all performances at 8:00 p.m.).

August 14, 2014: Innovative Piano Music with Federico Garcia-De Castro

October 11, 2014: Untamed Dancing with Moriah Ella Mason

December 12, 2014: Spatial Investigations with Jennifer Myers

February 12, 2015: Contemporary Circus/Dance with Jil Stifel and Ben Sota

April 2, 2015: Folkloric Theater with Anya Martin and the Hiawatha Project

June 11, 2015: Dance Double Feature with Teena Marie Custer and Roberta Guido