By Steve Sucato
Pittsburgh Current Dance Writer
Unlike the recent political appropriation of the phrase, “locker room talk,” The U.S. premiere of Argentina’s Un poyo rojo (A Red Stone Bench) is a very different kind of locker room talk; a conversation mixing humor, dance, theater and acrobatics.
Presented in partnership with the Pittsburgh Dance Council on Saturday, September 14 at the August Wilson Cultural Center, Un poyo rojo tells of two men in a locker room setting challenging, fighting and seducing one another.
Dubbed in the global press as a “Gloriously camp and joyous piss-take of tussling masculinity locker-room” and “the fight of the century in physical comedy gold,” the Cultural Trust’s Director of Dance Programming and Special Projects, Randal Miller says of the 70-minute, intermission-less work, “It is like nothing I’ve seen presented or [has been] performed in Pittsburgh.”
Born out of a variety show act in 2008 in the Centro Cultural Laboratorio in Buenos Aires, Un poyo rojo features choreography by Nicolás Poggi and actor/dancer Luciano Rosso and will be performed by Alfonso Barón and Rosso.
And while the show contains sexual content that may not be appropriate for all audiences, it is primarily tour-de-force physical theater duet layered with laugh out-loud moments such as Rosso’s masterful and cartoonish lip-synching to the Pulcino Pio song “The Little Chick Cheep”. Here’s a peek:
“I am very excited that this piece will make its U.S. debut with us,” says Miller. “The piece is lighthearted and hilarious and I think that will be the major take away from it.”
Un poyo rojo is performed at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 14; August Wilson Cultural Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. Tickets are $10-30 and include a special party in the August Wilson Cultural Center cafe with music by DJ Inception; (412) 456-6666 or trustarts.org.
Dancing to Aid Dancers
If your dance tastes lean more toward ballet, also on September 14, the annual Dancers’ Trust benefit concert curated and presented by dancers of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will offer up a mixed repertory program of new works and ballet classics at Point Park University’s George Rowland White Performance Studio. The event benefits the Dancers’ Trust Fund, an organization that helps Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers transition into other careers after retirement.
Begun in 1993, the Dancers’ Trust Fund has awarded over $100,000 in grants to retiring PBT dancers for academic and career training says former PBT dancer and fund administrator Ernest Tolentino.
With this year’s event coinciding with PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season, the concert will also honor PBT co-founder Nicolas Petrov, former artistic director Patricia Wilde and current artistic director Terrence Orr.
The program in two acts will open with award-winning choreographer and former Broadway performer and Rockette, Eileen Grace Reynolds’ “L.O.V.E.” to music by Bert Kaempfert and Milt Gabler played live by pianist Camille Rolla. It will be performed by dancers from PBT and guest performers from Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts.
Next, PBT principal dancer Hannah Carter perform Michael Fokine’s legendary 1905 solo, The Dying Swan to music by Camille Saint-Saëns performed live by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra pianist Rodrigo Ojeda and Mexican concert violinist Maureen Conlon Gutierrez.
A favorite of global ballet competitions, PBT dancers Amanda Potts Morgan and Colin McCaslin will then perform George Balanchine’s “Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux” (1960). Danced to music Tchaikovsky it has been described as “an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique”.
Rounding out the program’s first act will be excerpts from Point Park Dance Department Chair Garfield Lemonius’ “Maestro” set to music by Bach and danced by performers from PBT and Point Park, and another virtuoso ballet competition favorite, Asaf Messerer’s “Spring Waters” (1957) to music by Rachmaninoff and performed by PBT dancers Jessica McCann and Jack Hawn.
Then, PBT principal dancer Amanda Cochrane ponders the difficulties of “not thinking” in her new 8-minute ballet “A not so simple thought” to music by composer Peter Sandberg and others. PBT soloist Masahiro Haneji in the high-flying “Bronze Idol” solo from La Bayadere follows. Act 2 will begin with choreographer Lisa DeRibere’s “Long Ago and Far Away” to music by the Glenn Miller Band, followed by Allie Durand’s “Plume” to music by Julia Wolfe.
Next, Cooper Verona’s 11-minute “side by side” that debuted at June’s pearlPRESENTS Dance Festival, brilliantly explores “the push and pull of human intimacy” to music by the Eagles and Van Morrison.
Closing out the program will be PBT soloist JoAnna Schmidt’s new 8-minute ballet “Oblivion/Libertango” danced to music by Astor Piazzolla performed live by Ojeda and Conlon Gutierrez. Says Schmidt the ballet looks at “the many different truths living inside a person’s mind.”
The 2019 Dancers’ Trust Benefit Concert will be performed, 8 p.m., Saturday, September 14; Point Park University’s George Rowland White Performance Studio, 201 Wood Street, Downtown. Tickets are $25-35; (412) 392-8000 and pittsburghplayhouse.com