After its promising 2009 debut, the Kelly-Strayhorn's newMoves dance festival offers an encore. | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

After its promising 2009 debut, the Kelly-Strayhorn's newMoves dance festival offers an encore.

Following the success of its debut last May, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater's newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival returns May 13-16 with a tantalizing new lineup of dance artists and works from New York, Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh region.

Because she was pregnant during the planning of this year's festival, says Kelly-Strayhorn executive director and festival director Janera Solomon, she did not get to travel as much to see the artists this time. Instead, she relied more on recommendations in programming these four days of performances, master classes and artist talks. And that, she says, made the program more eclectic.

"I look for artists that are doing something fresh in their specific style or genre," says Solomon. "I am attracted to artists who are generous with their time and work and thoughtful about what they are doing."

Solomon adds that in choosing the program, she tried to focus on neither ticket sales nor her personal opinions. She hopes the festival will continue to find an audience that likes taking risks and wants to see new work, even if they might end up not liking all of it. 

Here is a breakdown of the performance offerings:

Program A (May 13) features two contemporary ballets by former Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Meredith Rainey and his Philadelphia-based Carbon Dance Theatre.

In the duet "This Is It / It Is This," set to music by David Lang, Rainey and dancer Sun Mi Cho explore an individual's perception of being in a romantic relationship -- especially a troubled one. "A lot of the time the relationship is happening in your head alone," says Rainey. "Are you projecting your thoughts onto your partner and are they based in reality?" 

Rainey and Cho will also perform the duet "Before and After," with music by Scanner, which Rainey says is about people putting on facades. 

Also from Philadelphia, the troupe Megan Bridge will perform "Morphic Resonance 4," a multimedia solo work that examines a body in resonance with the objects surrounding it.  

Rounding out the May 13 program are former LABCO artistic director Gwen Hunter Ritchie's solo work-in-progress "Transition" and works by emerging choreographers Bailey Bretz and former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Andrew Blight. Blight's pas de deux "Golden Record" is inspired by the Voyager 1 spacecraft's onboard message to the universe. 

Program B (May 14) features New York dancer/choreographer Camille A. Brown's solo "Good and Grown," a portrait of a woman remembering her life, set to music by Wes Montgomery and Saycon Sendbloh. Also featured is Nichole Canuso Dance Company's "Folcanzani." It's a trio set to music by crooners Andy Williams and Al Green in which, says the Philadelphia-based Canuso, "the dancers interact in a matter-of-fact way with each other, sliding along a continuum between literal and abstract movement."

Completing Program B are emerging choreographers Keila Cordova (Philadelphia) and Renee Danielle Smith.

Program C (May 15) is dominated by local dance artists including Pillow Project's Pearlann Porter and Dance Alloy Theater's Greer Reed-Jones and Michael Walsh. Walsh's trio "We're fine" explores the search for someone special in one's life.

The Staycee Pearl Dance Project presents two works: "The Flava of Hype," inspired by the media hype and excesses of rap artist and TV star Flava Flav, and "... but if i ...," about two women responding to a dire situation.

Also on Program C are works by New York choreographer Luke Murphy; August Wilson Dance Ensemble dancer Kaylin Horgan (with the Shakespeare-inspired trio "William's Girls"); and emerging choreographer Jamie Murphy. 

The festival concludes May 16 with youthMoves, a family-friendly program featuring performers from locals Bodiography, Hope Academy, NAKA Entertainment and more.


newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival 7:30 p.m. nightly Thu., May 13-Sat., May 15, and 2 p.m. Sun., May 16. Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty.
$5-20 (festival passes: $25). 412-363-3000 or


After its promising 2009 debut, the Kelly-Strayhorn's newMoves dance festival offers an encore.
Courtesy of Matt Karas
"Good and Grown": Camille A. Brown is featured in newMoves' May 14 program.