Cacalano & Cooper to debut new works in Pittsburgh before UK Tour

Gia Cacalano. Photo by Dale McNutt.
Gia Cacalano. Photo by Dale McNutt.

By Steve Sucato

Gia Cacalano says it was the lure of the ocean’s smell and distant sound that beckoned her and her 7-year-old daughter to continue a long hike that led them to an as-yet-unseen Atlantic.

The pair’s nature adventure this past summer, in Bangor, Maine — coupled with the anticipation of her daughter seeing the ocean for the first time — inspired the dancer-choreographer’s new solo work, “The Property.” It’s the first of three pieces on her latest Gia T. Presents program at Wood Street Galleries on Jan. 26.

Set to an original electronica score composed and performed live by longtime collaborator Jeff Berman, the 25-minute work, like all of her dances, is what Cacalano refers to as an “instant composition.” It’s a form of improvisation she describes as “choreography in the moment of choice.” The work will also feature an abstract background video by guest artist Wendell Cooper (a.k.a. Complex Stability).

In addition to providing video compositions for all three works on the program, Cooper, a Pittsburgh native now living in New York City, will dance in two of them, including a 20-minute version of his solo work “[Bodied]”.

Wendell Cooper. Photo by Karim Parris.
Wendell Cooper. Photo by Karim Parris.

Cooper is a practitioner of nature-based healing. Like Cacalano, he subscribes to a form of instant composition in his dance works. In “[Bodied]” (which contains adult subject matter), he will improvise a blend of urban dance forms including breakdancing and voguing with contemporary modern dance. He’ll also rap and sing to create a performance experience that he says “began as a memoir and channels a powerful stream of my family karma as a queer, indigenous, multimedia performance-based healing artist.”

In a video clip of a prior performance on Cooper’s website, the work revealed a marriage of the flamboyance of gay night-club dancing with a complex narrative about fragmented sensory perception and how our minds and bodies process stimuli and information.

The final piece on the program, “Duet,” will pair Cacalano and Cooper in a 15-minute dance framed around several preconceived choreographic phrases that the two will use as jumping-off points for their “instant composition.”

Following this Pittsburgh premiere, Cacalano and Cooper will perform the program in late February in Manchester, England.

GIA T. PRESENTS – 8 p.m. Sat., Jan. 26., Wood Street Galleries, 601 Wood St., Downtown. $10. Reservations at

This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper January 23, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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