The 5th annual newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival came with a set of viewing instructions this year. Inside the front page of the program read the following:
- Be in the moment.
- Make your own meaning.
- Contemporary dance is suggestive, not literal.
- Dance is a universal human language.
- You don’t have to like it.
During Solomon’s time at the KST she has slowly introduced Pittsburgh dance audiences to challenging and thought-provoking styles of choreography. This year was no different.
The three evenings of performances included artists from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Columbus and New York.
Representing Pittsburgh were some newer artists like Annalee Traylor, Shana Simmons, Jasmine Hearn and Anthony Williams. Traylor and Simmons presented duets (Simmons partnered with a live clarinetist), while Hearn and Williams utilized larger groups.
Williams’ ensemble impressed the audience with strong, clean lines, and rhythmic movement, sometimes African-infused. Hearn’s group mainly stayed stationary as she weaved in and around them using voice and movement in a solo exploration of her journey as a “young middle class black girl.”
Also presenting work from Pittsburgh were veterans in the community like Andre Koslowski (now in State College) who performed in his own trio. His always emotional material touched on loneliness this time, with the dark humor he is known for.
Staycee Pearl used large scale video projection in her premiere of “Encryption Cipher Variations.” And Gia Cacalano performed a structured improvisation in the lobby under dim blue light, to a relaxing soundscape.
Perhaps the most exciting local work of the festival came from Reed Dance (formerly the AWCDE). “Chaos” was choreographed by Christopher Huggins and used intense, non-stop movement phrases that required incredible stamina and athleticism from the dancers.
New York City artists made up a large part of the program as well. Samantha Spies of the esteemed Urban Bush Women company presented a solo of both dance and performance art. In an exploration of “internalized racial oppression,” she layered her body in a huge heap of clothing until she was unrecognizable, a haunting image that stayed with the audience.
Two NYC favorites were “cloud” by Mana Kawamura and “3 Breaths” by Gierre Godley. Kawamura presented a quirky duet with unique and fluid movement that could have lasted much longer. Godley’s piece was a lovely duet about first love. The dancers had a strong connection to each other and to the audience.
There was more, much more. The entire program included eighteen choreographers and over forty dancers, too many to name individually. Most notable was the diverse choreography that ranged from technical to theatrical and everything in between.
The audience seemed content to follow Solomon’s words of wisdom, watching each piece with intent and coming up with their own meaning. Most importantly, the community came together in good, refreshing fun, supporting a growing theater and community in the meantime.