Experience "ballet beyond the rules" when Texture presents Reimagine | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Experience "ballet beyond the rules" when Texture presents Reimagine

click to enlarge Experience "ballet beyond the rules" when Texture presents Reimagine
Photo: Mark Simpson
Reimagine by Texture Contemporary Ballet
Ballet is returning to Pittsburgh stages and with it some inventive new productions. One such show is Reimagine by Texture Contemporary Ballet, described by the company’s artistic and executive director Alan Obuzor as featuring “three dynamically different works.”

Taking place from Fri., April 1-Sun., April 3 at the New Hazlett Theater, Reimagine will continue Texture’s stated mission of “exploring new ways to reimagine ballet in the modern world.” This show will include two world premieres and a piece originally conceived in 2015.

One premiere, "A Ballet," is choreographed by Obuzor and described as featuring excerpts of “classical ballets that have been reimagined, rechoreographed, and reinterpreted, with a wider array of movement than what originally existed in classical ballet.” A statement from the company calls the piece "ballet beyond the rules,” as it uses music and elements of choreography from historic classical ballets such as Giselle, Paquita, and The Sleeping Beauty, and combines them with “stunning new classical and contemporary choreography.”

“I think one big challenge of bringing classical ballet to modern audiences is breaking people's preconceived stereotypes of what they think ballet is,” Obuzor tells Pittsburgh City Paper in an email interview, adding that people often see ballet as “something that is stuffy, dainty, rigid, predictable, minimal, etc.”

However, he believes the works being presented by Texture “utilize ballet, contemporary movement, music choices, costumes, and storytelling in ways that open up people's minds as to what ballet is and/or what ballet can be.”

“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a movement must be worth 100,000 words,” says Obuzor.
click to enlarge Experience "ballet beyond the rules" when Texture presents Reimagine
Photo: Courtesy of Texture Contemporary Ballet
Texture Contemporary Ballet dancers
Also being performed is "Old Skin,” a 2015 piece “based on the mythological being of the Phoenix” and featuring “vibrant red and orange costumes and movement that is ebbing, flowing, and bursting forth with exuberant intricacies,” according to Obuzor.

Choreographer Kelsey Bartman will pay tribute to piano rock musician Ben Folds with her newest original work “Has Ben,” which “centers on the experience of realizing you are turning to a new chapter, yet feeling joy and fulfillment when looking back on the past.” Obuzor expands on the piece, calling it a “picture book of one's life, filled with individual moments and memories,” and including costumes handpainted by Texture resident dancer Madeline Kendall.

Besides Folds, the show will include a mix of classical and contemporary music, including by Olafur Arnalds, Patrick Wolf, Ludovico Einaudi, Rob Simonsen/ L'Orchestra Cinematique, Emanuale Bossi, and Paolo Buonvino.

“Music is such a huge part of people's lives, it makes you think, feel, remember, it changes your mood, and so much more,” says Obuzor. “Our choreographers love many different genres of music, and when starting a piece and selecting music, they think about the many different places that music can transport you to.”

Besides Reimagine, Obuzor says he and the company are excited for the next season, which is set to start in the summer. Audiences should expect mainstage performances at the New Hazlett Theater in July and September, and in March 2023, as well as at the Carnegie Stage in November.

“Our passionate dancers and our hunger to explore, create, and present new works makes our performances engaging and relatable for audiences,” says Obuzor.

Texture Contemporary Ballet presents Reimagine. Fri., April 1-Sun., April 3. New Hazlett Theater. 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20-30. textureballet.org