Harsh themes underpin two of the works on the program for LABCO Dance's latest offering, Holding Passage, Jan. 23-25 at the New Hazlett Theater.
One is Slippery Rock University faculty member Ursula Payne's "Under Lock and Key"; the piece (completed since LABCO presented it as a work-in-progress last October) explores domestic violence and its effects on women.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Thiel's "Flip the Script" was inspired by the 2003 rough cut of the film Invisible Children, which chronicled the plight of Northern Ugandan children abducted by the rebel group LRA and forced to serve as child soldiers. The 15-minute work features 11 performers, including seven teen-age community dancers. Accompanying video projections by local filmmaker Jessica Fenlon and a soundtrack created by Herman Pearl (a.k.a. DJ Soy Sos) seek to suggest the turmoil that is disrupting children's lives not only in Uganda but in other hot spots around the globe.
"If you look at the work you are not necessarily going to say this is a piece about a specific region's turmoil," says Thiel, a LABCO company member.
Still, Thiel sees her work as an artistic statement in support of Invisible Children's cause. Merchandise related to the film will be on sale in the lobby to support a charitable movement the film spawned.
Meanwhile, far from a social statement, the third work in LABCO's program is more a formal experiment. New York choreographer Jeanine Durning's duet "In Re: Memory (2)" is performed by LABCO artistic director Gwen Hunter Ritchie and Slippery Rock associate professor Jennifer Keller. The 20-minute work is a structured improvisation and memory game in which Keller and Ritchie try to recall and repeat movement phrases introduced onstage.
"It is very task-oriented," says Ritchie. "Jeannie [Durning] was interested with the work in seeing how and why we remember what we do."
Set to music by Irish composer Jewels Maxwell, "In Re" also utilizes live video projections of the dancers onstage to capture for the audience some of the detail in the dancers' movements they will be called upon to remember.
LABCO Dance presents Holding Passage 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 23; 8 p.m. Sat., Jan. 24; and 2 p.m. Sun., Jan. 25. New Hazlett Theater, 1 Allegheny Square, North Side. $18 ($20 at the door); $13/$15 students and seniors. Sunday only is pay-what-you-can. 412-394-3353 or www.labcodance.net