In a year filled with compelling dance productions, here are eight (in order of performance) that left audiences captivated.
3 X 3. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's program at the August Wilson Center charmed with Julia Adams' cleverly crafted "Ketubah," inspired by Marc Chagall's art about Jewish wedding rituals; the world premiere of Viktor Plotnikov's marvelously inventive contemporary ballet "In Your Eyes"; and a reprise of Dwight Rhoden's sultry 2007 jazz-cabaret ballet "Smoke 'n Roses."
THE SECRET HISTORY OF LOVE. San Francisco-based transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey's dance-theater work was inspired by real-life stories collected during a two-year national LGBT Elders Oral History Project. The show, performed at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater by Sean Dorsey Dance, used full-throttle, athletic modern-dance choreography and heartfelt moments to challenge audience perceptions of human love.
AT THE BYHAM. The Conservatory Dance Company, Point Park University's student troupe, excelled in this absorbing program featuring George Balanchine's masterpiece "Serenade," Dwight Rhoden's thought-provoking "Mercy," an excerpt from Martha Graham's stirring anti-fascism work "Chronicle," and David Parson's modern masterwork "Wolfgang," to music by Mozart.
FAR. Award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor's contemporary ballet was inspired by the age of the Enlightenment and anatomical images from Diderot's encyclopedia. The Pittsburgh Dance Council show, performed at the Byham by Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, came together with deliciously engrossing dance movement created through neuroscience.
PARALLEL LIVES. At the New Hazlett Theater, CorningWorks dancer/choreographer Beth Corning and former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company principal dancer Arthur Aviles thoughtfully explored a growing discontent with technology as a replacement for human interaction. The multidisciplinary dance-theater work turned a mirror on our not-so-utopian connected world.
AS I REMEMBER IT. Iconic dancer, choreographer and actress Carmen De Lavallade's multimedia self-portrait told through dance, film and personal writings. The show, at the Kelly-Strayhorn, traced her seven-decade career working with other greats and her battles overcoming racism.
ASPEN SANTA FE BALLET. The extraordinaire touring troupe's exquisite dancers enthralled in three contemporary ballets at the Byham. The Pittsburgh Dance Council show included Norbert de la Cruz III's thoughtful and pensive "Square None," Spanish choreographer Cayetano Soto's darkly emotional "Beautiful Mistake," and Nicolo Fonte's heartfelt "The Heart(s)pace."
A CANTANKEROUS WIEGENLIED. Former Dance Alloy dancer Andre Koslowski and his TanzTheater/Andre Koslowski brought a European dance-theater aesthetic to this surreal, prop-laden work at the Kelly-Strayhorn. Quirky and intense characters failed at attempts to communicate, conjuring images of a broken mind trying unsuccessfully to process grief.