Bodiography, a local contemporary ballet company, feels that her most recent work, Metamorphosis, has become a sort of magnum opus.
Now, audiences around the world can experience Metamorphosis on Amazon Prime, where the solo show — which, after its premiere in 2018, enjoyed a six-month off-Broadway run at the Actor's Temple Theatre and performances the Lyric Theatre London's West End — is available to stream as a film.
“It changed my life in so many amazing ways, and I have come to realize that it is impossible to top,” Caruso tells Pittsburgh City Paper.
How the work changed her life has, in the last year, become all too apparent. In January 2023, she left her home in Wexford and relocated to Los Angeles, where her husband’s company is based. The move came, Caruso says, "after significant consideration of career pivots" that would still allow her and her husband "to maintain a deep connection to Pittsburgh where my companies and three of our five children still call home.”
She still commutes to Pittsburgh every week to serve as founding director of Bodiography, work with company dancers and students, and maintain a post as chair of La Roche University's Performing Arts Department.
“Reaching the pinnacle of my career in the dance world meant that I needed new challenges to push my creative expression,” she explains. “In 2023, that meant dabbling in film, television, and winemaking, all of which I love, but am most excited about the former.”
She has since starred in a music video and landed a supporting role on the television mini-series Love's U-Turn, from A Mistake. Caruso also started her media company, Ria Angelica Entertainment, and shot and starred in her first short film, Peace Offering.
She credits Metamorphosis for helping her to see new possibilities in acting.
“During my off-Broadway run, so many patrons have commented on my strength as an actor, and I never really understood what they meant,” says Caruso. “Since I was telling my personal and intimate story, it never felt like acting. But, when I saw myself last year on the big screen, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I am an actor. after all.’”
The shift into other areas appears natural considering that Caruso has, admittedly, never defined herself solely as a dancer and choreographer.
“Professionally, I see myself as a ‘creative entrepreneur' who uses dance, theater, and film to tell impactful stories that are both tangible and indelible,” she explains. “Beyond my work as a creative, I love educating the next generation about how to use their talents to leave a lasting mark on the world.”
That "lasting mark" still involves Pittsburgh. Caruso says she still curates the first half of the Bodiography season “focused on touring and outreach,” while Lauren Suflita Skrabalak, who now runs the company, handles the larger part of the season focused in Pittsburgh. Bodiography dancers will, in April, perform a collection of Caruso’s ballets, along with works by Skrabalak, company principal artist Isaac Ray, and guest artist Ellen Rosa Taylor, as part of the show Visions at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.
In the fall, as part of Bodiography’s 2024/25 season, Caruso says she will also premiere a new work set to the album Evensong by Kevin Keller in Pittsburgh “before it takes a brief off-Broadway run.”
Despite Metamorphosis marking, to some degree, the end of one chapter in her life, Caruso still likes to acknowledge and appreciate the show's impact.
"I look at my costumes every day in my closet and reflect on how blessed I am to have told my story and to be an artist who truly feels at peace, leaving it at rest," she says. "The bar is now very high, and it is a great challenge to navigate how to create a new work that can surpass it."