Last season, it was the men's turn, as the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble celebrated African-American choreographers Kyle Abraham, Antonio Brown and Darrell Grand Moultrie in The Dynamic Men of Dance ... Celebration of the Black Man. This weekend, women are in the spotlight as the ensemble presents the Dynamic Women of Dance.
The program includes works by Sidra Bell, Camille A. Brown, Kiesha Lalama and Kim Bears-Bailey. Some are familiar names to Pittsburgh audiences, through works like Bell's brilliant "Lily," performed by Point Park University's Conservatory Dance Company in 2011.
When she spoke with CP, by phone from New York, the jet-setting Bell had just completed a work for a dance company in Denmark. She returns to Pittsburgh with a new work created for AWCDE entitled "when we get to the other side i will kiss you."
The 25-minute piece for the full ensemble is set to electronica music by Scanner and others. Bell characterizes it as a melancholy journey about relationships and carrying someone else's burden.
"It's a theatrical work that [homes] in on aspects of the dancers' individual personalities," says Bell. "There is a lot of partnering in it, and it goes back and forth between the individual and a group dynamic."
Brown, meanwhile, presents a seven-minute excerpt from her 2006 work "New Second Line." The piece, inspired by the events of Hurricane Katrina, is set to music by Rebirth Brass Band and celebrates the resilience of New Orleans' people through the practice of "second lining." That's when strangers spontaneously join in New Orleans-style funeral processions behind the deceased's family and friends, partying and glorifying that person's life.
"This is a way we continue to honor people and continue to speak their name and existence," says Brown by phone from New York.
Point Park assistant professor Lalama's new work for AWCDE, "Torque," confronts her recent frustration over personal, social and political issues prevalent in society.
"I felt like I was on this rotating axis just running in place and I couldn't break free to effect change and make a difference," says Lalama. "Torque" is set to music by Afro Celt Sound System.
Completing the program is former Philadanco principal dancer Bears-Bailey's "Relations" set to music by Donny Hathaway.