Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Texture Contemporary Ballet Ready for 5th Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Texture Contemporary Ballet Ready for 5th Season

Article excerpt

Sometimes dreams are uncovered in unexpected ways.

Dancers Alan Obuzor and Kelsey Bartman used to kid around as friends that they should start a dance company together. Once Mr. Obuzor actually did as a platform to continue dancing after sustaining a serious injury, Ms. Bartman realized it was no joke.

Throughout the rehearsal process of the first show, which brought together dancers from other companies who were off for the summer, she thought to herself, "This is going to be something awesome," she recalls. Rather than taking a job with a small group in St. Louis, she accepted Mr. Obuzor's invitation to stay in Pittsburgh and serve as associate artistic director for his fledgling company.

That group has since grown into Texture Contemporary Ballet, known across the region -- and beyond -- for taking classical ballet and tilting it on its axis in innovative ways. Tonight it will open its fifth season with "Strength & Grace" for a four-day run at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side.

In a time when groups with decades of dance under their belts are struggling to survive, a young company that's able to establish a signature style, an audience and the funds to support it for five years is no small feat. Texture also has done some touring, including gigs at such prestigious places as the annual Jacob's Pillow dance festival and the Ailey Citigroup Theater (home to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater) in New York City.

"Those are things I didn't think I'd ever do in my lifetime, let alone with a company that I helped start," Ms. Bartman says.

But she and Mr. Obuzor credit some of these early successes to Pittsburgh's appetite for the arts.

"I feel like Pittsburgh is a really good place to have a company like this. Some of it comes from a lot of talented dancers in Pittsburgh who want to dance and be a part of it. It also comes from an audience in Pittsburgh that appreciates a professional-level ballet that also has some contemporary stuff," Mr. …

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