Pittsburgh Connections is a diverse showcase for five choreographers with local ties. | Dance + Live Performance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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Pittsburgh Connections is a diverse showcase for five choreographers with local ties. 

click to enlarge Cover me: Luke Murphy and Natalie Mackessy rehearse Jennifer Keller's "Shelter" for Pittsburgh Connections 3. - PHOTO COURTESY OF POINT PARK UNIVERSITY.
  • Photo courtesy of Point Park University.
  • Cover me: Luke Murphy and Natalie Mackessy rehearse Jennifer Keller's "Shelter" for Pittsburgh Connections 3.

One is a former dancer with Dance Alloy. Another is originally from Beaver County. A third is an alumna living in Chicago. For its third annual Pittsburgh Connections dance concert, Nov. 16-18 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Playhouse Dance Company at Point Park University again assembles the talents of choreographers who either live, or have lived, in the Pittsburgh area.

The program's five offerings begin with new Point Park dance-department faculty member Jason McDole. McDole grew up near Aliquippa, went to New York for 15 years, and is now back reviving a dance work he says he began a decade ago.

"The idea [that] some people live their lives consciously while others do so unconsciously has been floating around in my head for long time," says McDole. "Whether people realize it or not, their choice to live in either state has a rippling effect, both good and bad, on others."

McDole has kept the skeleton of his idea, but says that for the most part, "Conscious" is new. Set to pulsating music by minimalist composer Wojciech Kilar, the 10-minute modern-dance work for 12 dancers is an expression of concept rather than a literal storyline.

Jennifer Keller, meanwhile, is a former Dance Alloy dancer and current associate professor of dance at Slippery Rock University, known for creating dance works with social and political overtones. Her latest work, "Sheltered," is no different. The 10-minute contemporary-dance duet -- set to music from both Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte and a 1951 U.S. Department of Defense cartoon "Duck and Cover" -- juxtaposes two very different kinds of human sheltering. Keller, who recalls her father often playing a recording of the Mozart composition during her childhood, relates the music to an ultimate expression of human caring. She pairs that with a Cold War-era ditty from one of her kid's DVDs, in which "Bert the Turtle" urges children to duck and cover for shelter in the event of nuclear attack.

Following in the footsteps of former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Jiabin Pan, PBT principal dancer Erin Halloran spreads her relatively new choreographic wings in a ballet set to the second movement of Franz Schubert's "Death and the Maiden." The 14-minute neo-classical ballet features a cast of 20 with six couples, plenty of partnering and pointe work.

Also on the program is the large jazz dance work "Faraualla," by Whitney Moncrief, a Point Park alum and artistic associate with Chicago's Hubbard Street 2. Rounding out the program's diverse offerings is local dance icon Nicolas Petrov's comedic ballet "Soirees Musicales," set to the music of composer Benjamin Britten.

Playhouse Dance Company presents Pittsburgh Connections 3 Fri., Nov. 16-Sun., Nov. 18. Pittsburgh Playhouse, 222 Craft Ave., Oakland. $18-20. 412-621-4445 or www.pittsburghplayhouse.com

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