By Steve Sucato
Pittsburgh Current Dance Writer
For its third program in as many years and its first artistic premiere, project-based dance production company, The Blanket, continues its use of local architectural spaces to present dance with The Carrie Furnaces Project, at the historic former blast furnaces of U.S. Steel Homestead Works, July 5 & 6 in Rankin.
“We look for projects that will not only show audiences an amazingly high level of dance but have it be in a venue that shows them a little more about Pittsburgh,” says company co-director Matt Pardo.
The Blanket presents The Carrie Furnaces Project, 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 5 and Saturday, July 6 at The Carrie Furnaces, Carrie Furnace Blvd., Rankin, PA. Tickets are $25-30 and are available at theblanket.org.
Founded by Pardo and Caitlin Scranton in 2016, The Blanket fosters collaborations between the Pittsburgh dance community and the greater dance field. The pair thus far have focused their projects on award-winning New York City post-modern dance choreographers in productions featuring the works of Lucinda Childs in 2017 and Christopher Williams in 2018. The work of another award-winning New York choreographer, Beth Gill, is highlighted in The Carrie Furnaces Project.
“There is this amazing use of pacing in her works,” says Pardo. “She has a way of challenging her audiences in her pieces but doing so in a way that makes you feel involved in the conversation.”
Originally created in 2016 on dance students at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Gill’s “Yolk & Grove,” is a contemporary take on post-modern dance styles and melds together two of her existing dance works. The newly adapted 45-minute piece for a cast of seven area professional dancers is primarily a structural movement study that has been compared to a Celtic knot in its structure. Says Gill by phone from New York, “I think of it as more as a puzzle dance.” A short movement phrase will be performed by each of the dancers who assume a given role in it. The movement phrase will then be repeated again and again with each dancer taking on a different one of the seven roles and eventually cycling through them all.
“It’s a meditative piece that kind of drifts along,” says Gill.
Danced to an original sound score by her husband Ryan Seaton that Gill describes as moody and atmospheric, “Yolk & Grove” will be performed on a massive 110’ X 34’ cardboard stage lit by Brooklyn-based lighting designer Joe Levasseur with the sound score emanating (if all goes as planned) from the stereos of two cars parked in the Carrie Furnaces’ Power House where the performance will take place.
At the corps of “Yolk & Grove,” is the same curiosity that drives all of Gill’s dance works, how and why dance can seep into the viewer’s unconscious. “The power of looking at imagery on the body without verbal language and how that inspires and instigates an associative experience for the viewer attracts me,” says Gill. “I love the way dance does that in a unique way that no other medium does.”