By Steve Sucato
To say that Texture Contemporary Ballet’s Alan Obuzor and Kelsey Bartman are prolific dance-makers might be an understatement. Since founding the Pittsburgh-based troupe in 2011, the pair has had a hand in creating more than 30 new ballets for it. For many choreographers, that would be a decade’s worth of output.
For Texture’s latest program, Nearly Wild, the dynamic duo — who also perform in most of their ballets — take a break of sorts: They’re creating only two new ballets for the Sept. 20-22 program at the New Hazlett Theater. The rest of the 90-minute show in three acts features repertory works and two premieres by guest choreographers Oscar Carrillo and James Barrett.
Bartman’s lone new work is a solo she will perform entitled “The Rose.” Set to a melodic original score by Blake Ragghianti (performed live), the seven-minute ballet explores the tradition of rose-giving. “People are always longing to be given a rose or to give someone else a rose,” says Bartman. “It is not the rose they want; it is the feeling of romance and love the rose symbolizes that they want.”
Also from Bartman are 2012’s “Stills From Italy,” set to music by indie rockers Beirut and inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert‘s novel Eat, Pray, Love, and “Greener” (2009), a female duet with music by Rufus Wainwright. Bartman created “Greener” while a member of Nashville Ballet, based on that adage about the grass on the other side.
Obuzor and Bartman also combine on two ballets. One is 2012’s “Ding,” titled for the sound uttered by dancers during its creation, when they’d lovingly poke each other in the neck after one of them messed up a step. The other is the new, 25-minute version of 2011’s “Broken Flow,” the third-act ballet for 13 dancers, with music by Cleveland rapper Kid Cudi (contains explicit language). The work, says Bartman “is a response to Cudi’s music and contains quirky broken moments within graceful movement.” Also from Obuzor is his pas de deux “Home.”
Rounding out Nearly Wild are the premieres of Point Park University senior Carrillo’s “Amargo” (“Bitter”), a 16-minute ballet about depression, and recent Point Park grad Barrett’s “Brood,” a ballet inspired by the lifecycle of cicadas.
Texture Contemporary Ballet performs Nearly Wild, 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 20; 8 p.m. Sat., Sept. 21; and 2 p.m. Sun., Sept. 22. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20-25. 412-320-4610 or www.textureballet.org.
This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper September 18, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.