By Steve Sucato
When Mana Kawamura and Gia T. Cacalano show their works-in-progress at The Alloy Studios Feb. 1, the Friendship studio space itself will play a role.
The recipients of a Kelly-Strayhorn Theater Next Stage Dance Residency, both choreographers were given a week in The Alloy Studios at the end of January to create new works. Prior to their residencies, both artists told me that while they were approaching the project with some basic ideas, they intended to let the Friendship studio/performance space speak to them, helping to guide the direction their works would take.
Kawamura’s initial plan was to use a trio of dancers (including herself) to explore a non-interpersonal relationship that would be influenced by the studio’s architecture and openness.
A third-generation dancer/choreographer from Japan now based in New York, Kawamura and her dance company, “Kawamura the 3rd,” are no strangers to Pittsburgh dance audiences: They’ve performed at both the 2011 and 2013 Kelly-Strayhorn Theater newMoves Contemporary Dance Festivals. Her movement style, which she describes as “fluid” and playing into her “flexibility” as a dancer, earned her first prize at the YOKOHAMA choreography competition in Japan in 2010 for her work “cloudburst”.
Kawamura’s plan is to create 20 minutes’ worth of material, backed by an electronic soundscape she will assemble.
The other half of the Feb. 1 program will feature Pittsburgh’s improvisation queen, Gia Cacalano. Her newly formed local ensemble, Gia T. Presents “Frameworks,” will make its Pittsburgh debut with a 30-minute work-in-progress that Cacalano says will be slightly more choreographed than her previous work.
Set to music by pioneering electronic music composer Laurie Spiegel, the work will also make use of the Alloy’s stark space. A long piece of white fabric will be used for theatrical effect, while a costume color palette of grays, whites and blacks will play into the space’s white background and black floor. “I wanted to connect with the space rather than work against it,” says Cacalano.
A finished hour-long version of the work will debut Feb. 7 and 8 at the Wood Street Galleries: Cacalano and company will re-adapt it for the new space, while incorporating into it Austrian artist Erwin Redl’s LED light installation Speed Shift.
Kelly-Strayhorn Theater presents Next Stage Dance Residency artists Mana Kawamura and Gia T. Cacalano. 8 p.m. Sat. Feb. 1. The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. $10. 412-363-3000 or kelly-strayhorn.org