Taking place at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center from March 24-27, Here + Now features five ballet performances by five internationally-acclaimed female choreographers, including PBT resident Staycee R. Pearl, Helen Pickett, Gemma Bond, Annabelle Lopez Ocha, and Aszure Barton.
“As PBT’s second female artistic director, I am honored to use this program to shine a spotlight exclusively on female choreographers," says Susan Jaffe, PBT artistic director, in an email to the Pittsburgh City Paper. "Highlighting the work of women from a diverse range of backgrounds brings a variety of perspectives and styles center stage, making this production a truly enriching experience for audiences,"
Pearl is making her world premiere of "SKIN + saltwater," the first work by an African-American woman to be commissioned by PBT, according to a press release. When describing her ballet, the first word to come to Pearl's mind was "pretty."
“It follows that really general and minimal through-line as a dancer’s experience and personality,” Pearl says. “And then they have a transition and they combat adversity. When they get to the overcoming of adversity, they’re now powerful because of some of the trauma they went through.”
Pearl hopes that her show is relatable and that people feel something from watching it.
“As general as my concept is, as general as my answer to this question is, is that I hope they take with them some sense of universality to the human condition,” she says. “That’s what in my work I wanted most, is to connect on a visceral level to our audiences and that they enjoy themselves on some level.”
Pearl also describes Here + Now as eclectic.
“I like the fact that it’s not one file of contemporary ballet,” she says. “It has lots of different perspectives within the fact that we’re all limited.”
Also part of Here + Now is Pickett’s "Three – 4, 6, 8," which features three male dancers, focusing on each of them and their personality and technique.
“I was actually rereading The Three Musketeers when [Susan Jaffe] offered this opportunity and I thought, that’s actually kind of along the lines of what the essential base is of most of my work, which is communication, connection, camaraderie, relationship, how humans relate to each other on stage in a true way, not so as human beings as who they are, how they would truly relate,” Pickett says.
Pickett, who has created over 50 works, says that the piece is a change from the heavier narratives she likes to do.
“This is a light-hearted piece so I hope [audiences] take away a sense of camaraderie and humor, and that they have a sense of uplifting and uplifting nature from my short eight-minute work,” she says.
The show will also feature Ocha’s "La Pluie," Bond’s "Depuis le Jour," and Barton’s "Bright progressions."
Pickett hopes that the show will inspire young, aspiring female dancers.
“And maybe the example is there and they know they can be a choreographer as well, young women,” Pickett says.
Here + Now. Thu., March 24-Sun., March 27. August Wilson African American Cultural Center. 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $29. pbt.org