Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Texture Impressive in 'Blur'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Texture Impressive in 'Blur'

Article excerpt

Some of the rules, regulations and walls of ballet tumbled as the members of Texture Contemporary Ballet Company were set free to roam and, yes, "BLUR" the confines of the New Hazlett Theater on Thursday night.

Ballet is an art form with an aristocratic European heritage, but director Alan Obuzor is African-American, and associate director Kelly Bartman was sporting red hair with one side of her head shaved. They had some fresh ideas to bring to the dance as well.

Costumes were kept to a sleek minimum. The toe shoes used only elastic, no ribbons, the better to transfer to bare feet. And there were variations on mohawk hairstyles, both from Mr. Obuzor and ballerina Rachel Malehorn.

Texture is quietly building a small core of year-round dancers. But in the summer, it arises into a veritable dance community of 30, a credit to Mr. Obuzor, who attracts many who have passed through Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and its school, where he teaches and choreographs. Virtually all of this army is professionally employed or attending advanced programs.

So the dancing level was high, and the group well-rehearsed in a program of six works. Mr. Obuzor led off with "Emwaby Mee," an African-inspired ballet where the movements had the environmental feel of breezes rippling through the trees and waves lapping a beach, a lovely introduction to his organic style. He composed a terrific solo for himself, like a creature in survival mode, that stretched the vocabulary in just the right direction.

Ms. Bartman contributed "Esuaceb Tsuj," which contained her message, "just" in reverse. Always a whimsical thinker, her opening contained genuinely original moves. It would have been good to play upon that throughout.

Ms. Bartman has a rabid imagination. There was a rap section and an apparent finale, followed by a pause and several more sections. …

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