August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble celebrates artistic visions of four women choreographers

Dance preview
March 7, 2012 12:00 am
  • Dancers are from top, Kendra Dennard, Naila Ansari and Shantelle Jackson.
    Dancers are from top, Kendra Dennard, Naila Ansari and Shantelle Jackson.
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In the world of dance, male choreographers outnumber females by a ratio of about five to one, says Greer Reed, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble founding artistic director.

"The statistic is really drastic, but women choreographers have a huge and very loud voice that needs to be heard and continue to be supported."

Some of them will be celebrated Friday and Saturday when the ensemble stages "Dynamic Women of Dance" at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Downtown.

'Dynamic Women of Dance'

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Where: August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Downtown.

Tickets: $20 to $30 at www, or 412-338-8742.

The production is a follow-up to last year's "Dynamic Men of Dance," which showcased works by rising choreographic stars Darrell Grand Moultrie, Antonio Brown and Pittsburgh native Kyle Abraham. This season, pieces by Sidra Bell (Sidra Bell Dance New York), Camille A. Brown (Camille A. Brown & Dancers), Kiesha Lalama (Point Park University Conservatory Dance Company) and Kim Bears-Bailey (Philadanco) will share the spotlight.

"I think it's definitely a kind of an emotional roller coaster," Ms. Reed says. "Each one of the dynamic women have different artistic voices."

She was attracted to Ms. Bell and Ms. Brown's work after observing them at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty.

"They had felt the buzz of the company, and they were interested in using the company as a platform."

This weekend, Ms. Bell will premiere "When We Get to the Other Side I Will Kiss You," which is heavily dependent upon improvisation and set on a naked stage, Ms. Reed says. Ms. Brown's piece, an excerpt from "New Second Line," references the tradition in New Orleans of carrying a coffin through the streets past places that were important to the deceased's life.

"It celebrates the spirit of the people of New Orleans just as a whole," she says.

Ms. Bears-Bailey will premiere "Relations," which examines the relations between a duo and a trio.

"Torque" by Ms. Lalama looks at "how we all go through life and we get so caught up I think in the grind of things that sometimes we forget to just let loose and be ourselves," Ms. Reed says. Some ensemble members have ties to Point Park and have worked with Ms. Lalama before, she says, so "she's used to their aesthetic and how they move."

Keeping in line with the theme of women powerhouses, artist Vanessa German will present a spoken word poem in collaboration with a female soloist as a tribute to late songstress Whitney Houston.

Together, the pieces bridge a range of sentiments, from exuberant and joyful to contemplative, Ms. Reed says.

"When you come to see it, you'll feel a little bit of everything."

First Published 2012-03-06 23:18:36

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