Beth Corning's new dance-theater work asks, "How do you know when you are an adult?" | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Beth Corning's new dance-theater work asks, "How do you know when you are an adult?"

When we were children we longed to be treated like adults. When we got older, we were told to act like adults. But what does being an adult actually mean? That is the subject of CORNINGWORKS' Glue Factory Project production Are We There Yet?

"At some point you begin to question the things you have heard all of your life," says Beth Corning, the production's choreographer and director and one of its performers. "How do you know when you are an adult?"

Set to music from Bach and Beethoven to Meredith Monk and the band Seven Seas, the multi-disciplinary dance-theater work explores the cultural, legal and philosophical definitions of adulthood while touching on subjects like relationships, parenting and death.

"I tend to go for the visceral rather than the didactic in my works," says Corning, the locally based former head of Dance Alloy Theater. "Artistically, I run on emotions." So this new hour-long production is a departure, she says. "This piece stems from something more philosophical."

Corning's Glue Factory series features veteran performers over age 40. This time, she has enlisted John Giffin, a former principal dancer with Pina Bausch's Wuppertal Dance Company; Claire Porter, an award-winning dance-theater artist; Jane Shockley, a former principal dancer with Minnesota's Zenon Dance Company; and Peter Sparling, the former Martha Graham Dance Company principal dancer who performed in the 2010 Glue Factory show A Seat at the Table.

For Giffin, the production will be a welcome return to the stage after a several-year absence. 

"Performance is my first love," says Giffin. "But at age 64, I am not going to try and do the things I did when I was younger, like the big jumps and air turns." Instead, like his fellow performers, Giffin will rely on his decades of honed stage presence. 

The work also includes videotaped excerpts of interviews Corning conducted at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, where subjects ages 4 to 86 were asked when one becomes an adult. 

If the critically acclaimed A Seat At The Table is any indication, Are We There Yet? should offer a wealth of dance and life experience distinguishing it among dance productions you'll see this season. 


CORNINGWORKS: THE GLUE FACTORY PROJECT presents ARE WE THERE YET? Thu., May 5-Sun., May 8. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20-25 (Sun., May 8, is pay-what-you-can). 412-320-4610 or

Beth Corning's new dance-theater work asks, "How do you know when you are an adult?"
Photo courtesy of Frank Walsh
Claire Porter

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