Arts

Latest Dance: ODC/Dance to perform with Mendelssohn Choir

By November 6, 2019 No Comments

ODC/Dance’s Path of Miracles. (Photo: Andrew Weeks)

By Steve Sucato
Pittsburgh Current Dance Writer
info@pittsburghcurrent.com

In 2016, ODC/Dance co-founder KT Nelson and her husband joined some 278,000 pilgrims to walk The Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James), a network of routes across Spain and Europe that lead to the cathedral Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish region of Galicia and the shrine of the apostle Saint James. Inspired to make the trek on the Camino Del Norte route (one of dozens of up to 500 mile routes taken) by British composer Joby Talbot’s 2005 score Path of Miracles itself about the historical pilgrimage that dates back to the Middle Ages, Nelson says she was so moved by the experience she wanted to create a dance work to share her journey with audiences. 

ODC/Dance with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh performs Path of Miracles, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 (Free Dress Rehearsal) – Friday, Nov. 8 and 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9; Trinity Cathedral, 328 Sixth Ave., Downtown. Tickets are $25-35 and available at trustarts.org or by calling 412-456-6666.  

“I heard the music and really loved it but questioned if it was a reasonable idea to choreograph to it,” says Nelson via telephone from Arizona where the company was on tour with Path of Miracles. “I thought the best thing to do was to go on The Camino to try to understand the score to see if I could choreograph to it or whether it should stand alone.” 

Needless to say, she chose to choreograph to it and the resulting 75-minute site-specific Path of Miracles, performed by San Francisco’s ODC/Dance with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh makes its Pittsburgh debut November 6-9 at the Trinity Cathedral as part of the Pittsburgh Dance Council’s 50th anniversary season.

Even though The Camino de Santiago is traditionally a religious pilgrimage, Nelson says she is not a religious person and that many people from all walks of life these days walk The Camino. “I think it is about people taking a pilgrimage to understand their lives and themselves.” It is that journey self-discovery that informs Nelson’s work.   

Sung in multiple languages, Talbot’s choir score for 17 a cappella singers tells of The Camino de Santiago and the myths, and some say miracles, surrounding it such as The legend of Fuente Reniega on the Camino Frances route that describes a Pilgrim dying of thirst who is tempted by the devil disguised as a young walker who offers him water if he will reject his faith. After he refuses several times, Santiago the Apostle appears along with a water fountain to save the dying man. 

Nelson says she was inspired more by Talbot’s music than the lyrics and chose to make her work in 4-movements related more to the feelings and emotions of the walk itself.    

“We do each of the movements in a different site within the Trinity Cathedral,” says Nelson. “Part of the beauty of the work is the interaction between the work’s 10-dancers, 17 singers and 1 conductor who all take part in the choreography.”

Nelson said she built the intermissionless work to be modified to the spaces it will be performed in and that the only big issue she had was maintaining the amplification of the singers’ voices as they move from site to site within a given performance venue.

As with most works that have the audience move to different locations during it, vantage points will differ and “everybody has a slightly different experience,” says Nelson. And while the work can’t possibly recreate the breadth of The Camino de Santiago walk experience, Nelson says with Path of Miracles, “We’ll take you on a little adventure.”

ODC/Dance with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh performs Path of Miracles, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 (Free Dress Rehearsal) – Friday, Nov. 8 and 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9; Trinity Cathedral, 328 Sixth Ave., Downtown. Tickets are $25-35 and available at trustarts.org or by calling 412-456-6666.  

BOLLYWOOD DREAMS

The Bollywood musical revue TAJ EXPRESS returns to Pittsburgh and the Byham Theater for one show November 6 at the as part of its 2019 U.S. tour. A Cohen & Grigsby TRUST PRESENTS Series event, the 135-minute song-and-dance spectacular was last in Pittsburgh in 2017. It tells the story of Shankar, a musical genius who is struggling to compose the music for a new Bollywood movie and turns to his idol Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) for inspiration. 

Told through a fusion of film, dance and live and recorded music, the production takes the audience on a live cinematic journey through modern Indian culture and society.  

Heading the Pittsburgh cast that has performed to sold-out houses across the globe will be some of Bollywood’s biggest film stars including Ninad Samaddar Shankar, Rajitdev Easwardas (as Arjun) and Tanvi Patil (as Kareena Kaboom). 

TAJ EXPRESS – THE BOLLYWOOD MUSICAL will be performed 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6; Byham Theater, 101 6th Street, Downtown. Tickets are $30-50 and available at trustarts.org or by calling 412-456-6666.   

 

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