Attack Theatre premieres new dance film as part of its virtual programming | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Attack Theatre premieres new dance film as part of its virtual programming

click to enlarge I : I director and choreographer, Janessa Clark - MARIA BARANOVA SUZUKI
Maria Baranova Suzuki
I : I director and choreographer, Janessa Clark
In the midst of the pandemic, Attack Theatre relocated from the Strip District to 212 45th St. in Lawrenceville. Now just a few months after its big November move, the dance company will introduce audiences to its new space with the premiere of I : I, a film made in collaboration with Brooklyn-based choreographer Janessa Clark.

Streaming Fri., Jan. 22 and Sat., Jan. 23, the film was shot and set in the Attack Theatre space, and was “conceived, devised, created and captured in the difficult year of 2020,” according to a press release. The film was directed and choreographed by Clark, and features Attack Theatre co-founder and artistic director Michele de la Reza, and company dancers Simon Phillips, Dane Toney, and Sarah Zielinski.

“Graphic by nature and interpretive by design, the title for this new work creates space to make meaning — one to one or eye to eye. It can be a mirror image, or a glance at another person,” reads a synopsis for the film. “It provides a symmetry and balance for contemplation and an ambiguous chasm of spatial divide. It can be a stretch of highway traversing the long journey ahead. It can be an encounter, a barrier, a reflection.”

The Attack Theatre website says, on a macro level, the film serves as "an examination of our society," and a reckoning with the pain and trauma of past actions. "This personal journey through a pandemic, systemic racism, and political divides are all stepping stones to becoming a more compassionate, inclusive world."
click to enlarge Dane Toney in I : I  - JOSHUA SWEENY
Joshua Sweeny
Dane Toney in I : I
The film, which was shot by cinematographer Joshua Sweeny and scored by composer David Shane Smith, also “confronts and embraces the challenges of making dance in a time of social distance and isolation.” Up until the actual shoot, pre-production occurred virtually, the cast and crew communicating and rehearsing with Clark from her Brooklyn studio.

“It’s a bit surreal to be creating a film in a place I have never set foot in, with dancers I have never met in person,” says Clark. “But these are wild times, and creativity needs only the opportunity.”

Like many arts organizations, Attack Theatre has had to cancel or reschedule planned events and look for new ways to engage safely with audiences. In April 2020, Attack had planned on resurrecting its Dirty Ball, a spectacular fundraising gala that had been on hiatus for five years. When the first statewide shutdown prohibited large gatherings, the company tentatively postponed the event for Fall 2020, which then ended up never happening as COVID-19 cases rose.

In addition to the film premiere, Attack Theatre will also offer interactive programming to complement the work, including a tour of the dance company’s new studio and opportunities to speak with the artists.

I : I Virtual Premiere. 7:30 p.m. Fri., Jan. 22. 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sat., Jan. 23. $15-60.

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