By Breanne Smith
Dance Alloy Theater, Pittsburgh's premier modern dance company, will present its innovative show "FRAGILE" as well as workshops for university classes as part of its campus visit Thursday and Friday.
The company's visit will culminate in a performance at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The world-class visionary dance theater performance features works by Tony Award nominee Donald Byrd, Dance Alloy Theater Artistic Director Beth Corning and renowned New York choreographer Susan Marshall.
Among the company's six members is Adrienne Misko, a 2005 Ohio University graduate in dance performance who joined the company the fall after her graduation.
"Adrienne has realized a dream that many of our students have," said Madeleine Scott, director of the School of Dance. "Her membership in the company represents the promise of reward for hard work, talent and discipline."
Included in the show's works is Byrd's "The Interrupted Narrative/No Consolation," which was inspired by the senseless loss of young lives to violence, war and careless mistakes. The first chapter of the piece was created specifically for the Dance Alloy Theater as the initial installment in a national project.
"It is really emotional and really hard to perform," Misko said. "It is hard to rehearse it every day. We have to do it in pieces to keep from ending up crying at the end of each rehearsal; it's just so moving."
Corning's poetic work "In a Small Place" was inspired by Norwegian poet Dag T. Straumsvåg.
"Dag's work is like a small stage play, an entire world captured in a single prose poem," Corning said. "Its sensibility, its sense of movement, its provocative images riveted me, and having this amazing poet's blessing to use his work added a very special level of responsibility and challenge to do his work justice."
"Arms," Marshall's signature duet, is considered one of this generation's most poignant works and displays passionate intensity danced almost entirely with the upper body. Marshall has been hailed by The New York Times as "one of the most significant choreographers working today."
The company, which is celebrating its 32nd year, has adopted as its mission a goal to "break the fourth wall." In performing arts, the stage is defined by four walls: the back wall, two side walls and a fourth one that separates the performers from their audience.
Corning will break that fourth wall this week by leading master classes and an hourlong lecture-demonstration in dance and interdisciplinary arts classes. She will introduce students to the art of nonverbal communication by engaging them in gestural exercises performed in their seats. Through these exercises and presentation of the works, she said, students will be involved in provocative discussions about human expression and the ability of nonverbal art forms to proffer a shared visceral experience and explore places words cannot.
"Master classes given by visiting artists provide an essential element of the training in (the dance) program," Scott said. "They offer the dance student an opportunity to experience the approach of an artist in a teaching situation and, when there is a performance as part of the residency, students are able to see the results of that approach on stage. This helps the dancers refine their goals."
The public is invited to attend a free lecture-demonstration, which provides a context for the company's Friday performance, at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Shirley Wimmer Theater in Putnam Hall.
Tickets for Friday's show may be purchased at the Templeton-Blackburn ticket office, which is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before the performance. Prices are $8 for students, $12 for seniors and $15 for general admission.
The performance is sponsored by the Ohio University Performing Arts Series, Ameriprise Financial and the Hocking Valley Bank.