Continuum Dance Theater’s ‘Object of DESIRE’ explores the American dream

Photo by Ashley Giffin
Photo by Ashley Giffin

By Steve Sucato

A nuclear family with 2.5 kids, a dog and a house with a white picket fence has been the stereotypical vision of the American dream. But is that vision still relevant? That is the question behind Continuum Dance Theater’s Objects of DESIRE, which the company will world-premiere Sat., Dec. 14, as part of the New Hazlett Theater’s Community Supported Art performance series.

The 50-minute, intermission-less dance-theater work is choreographed by Continuum artistic director Sarah Parker. But it was derived largely from feedback Parker and company received over the past nine months: During local informal public showings and rehearsals, they surveyed audience members about their perceptions of the American Dream.

“We wanted to know what makes people tick, what motivates them, and what they desire most in the world,” says Parker.

Photo by Ashley Giffin.
Photo by Ashley Giffin.

Parker, a graduate of Point Park University, founded Continuum in 2011 as an off-shoot of her Pittsburgh-based Evolve Productions, which regularly produces dance education and performance events. Objects of DESIRE is only the second full-length work the fledgling all-female troupe has produced, after 2012’s The Movement.

Set to a soundscape created by Parker that includes music by American-Chilean musician Nicolas Jaar and Israeli singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan, Objects of DESIRE follows a single character, portrayed by dancer Michelle Skeirik. Over the course of the piece, Skeirik’s character encounters four more characters who represent aspects of herself in the form of “desires.” These desires include success and power, materialism, and relationships and sex. Each character also carries with her a physical object that symbolizes that desire.

“The show is almost like a movie for the audience to experience,” says Parker.

Photo by Ashley Giffin.
Photo by Ashley Giffin.

Used to cranking out new (if shorter) works at “a feverish pace,” Parker says the luxury of time afforded her and the company via the New Hazlett’s subscription-style CSA series allowed her for the first time to involve the community in the creation of a work. It’s a process she says really benefitted Objects of DESIRE. CDT will show a video about the making of the work in the New Hazlett lobby before the show.

Continuum Dance Theater performs Objects of DESIRE, 8 p.m. Sat., Dec. 14. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20. 412-320-4610 or

This article first appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper December 11, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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