Live music highlights Texture Contemporary Ballet’s seventh season-opener | Dance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Live music highlights Texture Contemporary Ballet’s seventh season-opener

Premieres of works set to songs by Dylan and Pittsburgh’s Meeting of Important People are featured

Alexandra Tiso of Texture Contemporary Ballet
Alexandra Tiso of Texture Contemporary Ballet

Music takes center stage in Texture Contemporary Ballet’s seventh season-opener, Resounding Sound, July 20-23 at the New Hazlett Theater.

The program in three acts feature seven works performed by Texture company members and guest dancers from Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Ballet Quad Cities, Butler University and Point Park University.

Two large premieres will bookend the program, beginning with Texture associate artistic director Kelsey Bartman’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” set to a suite of nine Bob Dylan tunes including “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Just Like a Woman” and “Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind.” 

“I’ve wanted to do a ballet to [Dylan’s] music for about 10 years,” says Bartman. The work for six women (including Bartman) and six men is mostly a reaction to each song, but Bartman says that during the creative process, individual characters and movement specific to each dancer developed. Performing the tunes live will be Sacramento, Calif.-based musicians Justin Edward Keim and Vincent Randazzo, making their Pittsburgh debuts. 

Keim and Randazzo are in graduate school for acting at the American Conservatory Theater, in San Francisco. Keim, via email, says that the duo’s collaboration with Texture has all been done remotely. Says Keim, “We’re both chomping at the bit to get in there and play along with these beautiful dancers.”

The program’s tantalizing middle will feature: a new pas de deux by Australia-born Point Park graduate Henry Steele; Texture company member Alexandra Tiso’s solo “Song for Viola”; and reprises of repertory works by Bartman and Texture artistic director Alan Obuzor. 

Resounding Sound closes with Obuzor’s new 32-minute contemporary-ballet work “Tell Me It’s Not Too Late.” The ballet for 12 dancers including Obuzor, like Bartman’s opener, is mostly a reaction to the music, but also a piece for which the dancers developed their own characters and storylines. It will be danced to music from Pittsburgh indie-rock band Meeting of Important People’s latest album, the critically acclaimed Troika. 

MOIP previously collaborated on an Obuzor ballet in 2013. Of this new project, for which the band will play live, lead singer Josh Verbanets says, “We have found a much better groove since our last collaboration ... which I think will really lend itself to the choreography.”

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