By Steve Sucato
This summer, the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater continues serving as one of the region’s leading incubators of new dance work and artist development with three installments of its East Liberty LIVE! series.
Up first, former Dance Alloy dancer André Koslowski returns to Pittsburgh to further develop his Wiegenlied (“Lullaby“), an evening-length dance-theater piece exploring themes of loneliness and isolation. Koslowski and his Pennsylvania Dance Theatre showed excerpts of this work-in-progress at the Kelly-Strayhorn’s 2013 newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival.
The week-long residency and June 20 work-in-progress showing also marks the company’s transition from Pennsylvania Dance Theatre to TanzTheater André Koslowski. Koslowski, who has run the company since 2003, says the move reflects the State College-based troupe’s evolution from a repertory company to one showcasing his singular choreographic vision.
During the residency, TanzTheater will create new material for the surreal Wiegenlied. Leonie Stein, former head of the Y Institute at Switzerland’s Bern University of the Arts, will act as dramaturg, helping to edit and sequence this series of character solos, which Koslowski says depict failed attempts at communication and expression. In one solo, dancer Jennifer Keller uses a leaf-blower to dry her hair while trying (unsuccessfully, because of the noise) to engage the audience in conversation.
Set to an eclectic mix of music, from Ernest Bloch and Henry Mancini to a traditional Welsh lullaby arranged by composer Efraín Amaya, Wiegenlied, will be dense with set pieces and props, like many of Koslowski’s pieces.
“I don’t like to look at an empty stage,” says Koslowski by telephone from State College. “I think stage design grounds the work in real life, rather than being a complete abstraction of it.”
The German-born Koslowski, 46, danced for the Alloy from 1995 to 2003, and his choreography has been presented internationally. At the June 20 showing, he says, he and the company will gather audience reaction and feedback before the work’s Pittsburgh premiere, in November.
The remaining two East Liberty LIVE! residency/showcases will feature Philadelphia dancer/choreographers Gabrielle Revlock and Nicole Binder’s community-focused dance theater work I made this for you, on July 25 at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, and dancer/choreographer Marjani Forte’s work-in-progress showing of being Here… / this time, Aug. 15 at The Alloy Studios.
TanzTheater André Koslowski presents excerpts from Wiegenlied. 8 p.m. Fri., June 20. Admission is pay-what-you-can. The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., Friendship. 412-363-3000 or kelly-strayhorn.org
This article originally appeared in Pittsburgh City Paper June 18, 2014. Copyright Steve Sucato.