By Steve Sucato
To open its fifth-anniversary season at the New Hazlett Theater, Texture Contemporary Ballet pays homage to World War II-era women in Kelsey Bartman’s new ballet “Forget About Home.” It’s one of six works on Texture’s July 16-19 Strength & Grace program. The 30-minute ballet for 16 dancers, with libretto by associate artistic director Bartman’s younger sister, Krysta Bartman, is set to 1940s-sounding arrangements of popular music by Maroon 5, Band of Horses and others, created by New Victorians frontman Ben Hardt.
Combining contemporary ballet with a musical-theater approach, “Forget About Home” offers snapshots of wartime women waiting for a sweetheart to come home, grieving over the loss of a son, and working in factories, a la “Rosie the Riveter.”
Also on the program is a reprise of Bartman’s 2012 solo “Hurts Like Heaven,” set to music by Coldplay and performed this time by company member Christina Sahaida.
Recurring guest choreographer Gabriel Gaffney Smith will present a reworked version of his 2013 neo-classical ballet “unaccompanied.” The BalletMet Columbus dancer’s 10-minute trio, set to music by Bach and Son Lux, deals with cause and effect in human relationships.
Texture artistic director Alan Obuzor also dips into his choreographic past by restaging his first-ever group ballet, 2006’s “Feel of Fire.” The work was originally created for a Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School production. Obuzor describes the 15-minute ballet for a dozen dancers, with music by Astor Piazzola, as having a “sensual, sexy feel to it.”
Obuzor will also premiere his latest ballet for the company, “Inner Division of Existence.” The 35-minute abstract ballet in seven sections is set to music by Flemish Belgian composer Wim Mertens. Says Obuzor: “The music gave direction to the movement and feel of each section.”
Rounding out the program is Point Park University alum Darren McArthur’s untitled five-minute work-in-progress about trying to avoid the inevitable, danced to original electronic music by slowdanger’s Taylor Knight.
At 3 p.m. Sat., July 18, Texture will present a special matinee designed to expose young children to professional dance. It will feature a 20-30 minute excerpted version of Strength & Grace along with 20-minute interactive session. Tickets are $10 per family.
Texture Contemporary Ballet performs Strength & Grace, Thu., July 16 – Sun., July 19. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. $20-25. 888-718-4253 or newhazletttheater.org