Texture Contemporary Ballet presented its usual powerful mix of classical ballet and modern movement. Executive director Alan Obuzor selects great modern choreography (including his own) and often unfamiliar music. This program, titled Interfusion," included live music from Cello Fury, which bills itself as Pittsburgh's Cello Rock band. It includes three cellos and a drummer. They were situated in a niche above the dance stage and the cellos were amplified. They made some impressive music, but the program did not list either the composer or arranger for each. The drummer was frequently too loud, drowning out the more subtle strings. This could have been an amplification issue, but it made for some odd balances.
The Texture Ballet Company is highly talented, with seemingly unlimited energy. On occasion, there were so many dancers that they seemed to swamp the rather smallish stage of the New Hazlett Theater. The first piece, "Symphony of Shadows," was high energy and the dancers were well rehearsed. Because the auditorium seats are so close to the dancers, it was easy to see their facial expressions, and they were not always the best. Some had perpetuals smiles, regardless of the content of the music or the choreography. Some had perpetual knitted brows. Even Mr. Obuzor had an arched-eyebrow look that hovered between expectation and anxiety, and this was true for him for the entire program. This is a small point, but in a small space it is distracting. One dancer who managed to have a more natural expression was a 17-year old from Peters Township High School- Ms. Isabella Mascio.
There was a duet titled "Unbroken," featuring the music of Wim Mertens, choreographed by Mr. Obuzer, whose partner in this piece was Diana Yohe. It was a beautiful and lyrical love story in music. Ms. Yohe was spectcular in her reactions and well as technique. Mr. Obuzer is also strong, but at times, when he was to be looking at his parnter he seemed to be gazing beyond her to the wings. Its not a good thng when a lover looks through or beyond their partner.
Next follwed a solo piece titled "Japura," choreographed by Mr. Obuzor, with music by Philip Glass. The soloist was Henry Steele. Based on this piece, as well and the entire program, it seems that Mr. Steele is an emerging star. He has a gymnastic background that gives him strength and poise. He has very long arms that accentuate his line, making him quite graceful. If he is to arch his back, the arch envelops his whole body; if he is to bend at the hips, his legs remain rooted while his body smoothly stretches; if he is to have an open hand, all of the fingures are perfectly placed, and all of this is done effortlessly. His body makes every motion full and long. He was also able to do convincing lifts with partners taller than himself, where he did not have the advantage of height for leverage. Mr. Steele is a senior at Point Park University.
Another work was "Regresson al Realidad" with music by Piazzolla and choreography by Obuzor. This was a frenetic and sensual piece, taxing the high-energy dancers. There was almost a failed lift by one the male dancers, but he managed a good recovery.
All in all, Texture is a joy to see and hear. The choreography is energetic and the dancers are accomplished. Congratulations to Mr. Obuzor for managing the group. The performance was well-attended, which was good, given there was a baseball game not far away. A Texture Ballet program is always worth seeing.