Event Review: Pavement by Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion

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On Tuesday, October 28th, at 7:30pm the modern dance ensemble Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion performed an urban dance piece called Pavement at the Weis Center. Whether you saw the show or not, here is the scoop on the project’s origins and the dance troupe’s story.  Kyle Abraham is a dancer-choreographer who has had quite a journey. 4 years ago he was relying on food stamps and in September of last year he was among the 13 men and 11 women named MacArthur fellows, an honor that puts artists on the map and offers a hefty $625,000 paid over five years. Abraham, who grew up in Pittsburgh, now lives in Brooklyn and is the founder and artistic director of his company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. The company’s body of work is intended to connect with the audience in such a way that causes personal investigation and leads the audience to delve into their identity and personal history. A.I.M., as it has been termed, is made up of dancers from a diverse range of backgrounds, each one bringing their unique style and spin to the work as a whole to create a movement that is fresh and unique.

Abraham has diverse training in music, dance, and visual arts, along with his impressive skills as a performer. His style is that of youthful energy routed in the hip-hop and urban dance styles that he was so exposed to throughout his upbringing, all of which was apparent in his performance. Abraham manages to take this often unrefined style and show his immense technical modern dance skill to create a more relatable, yet still impressive, body of work. He uses elements of his unique personal history to tell a story and cause the audience to investigate theirs.

The result has been wide acclaim across the dance community. Abraham, with the help of A.I.M. has received many of the American dance community’s most prestigious awards and grants. His choreography has been presented throughout the United States and abroad to rave reviews.

Abraham and his ensemble performed Pavement, the Boyz n the Hood inspired dance they debuted in 2012, at the Weis Center. In the dance, Abraham channeled urban life and the issues of urban and gang violence on the backdrop of a city basketball court. The performance used a diverse score, using pieces from Bach, to R&B, to spoken word, and gun shots. The piece seemed very personal, given Abraham’s childhood. “In 1991, I was 14 and…that same year, John Singleton’s film, Boyz N The Hood, was released. As he puts it, “for me, the film depicted an idealized ‘Gangsta Boheme’ laying aim to the state of the Black American male at the end of the 20th century. 20 years later I am focused on investigating the state of Black America and a history therein.  Reimagined as a dance work and set in Pittsburgh's historically black neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District, Pavement aims to create a strong emotional chronology of a culture conflicted with a history plagued by discrimination, genocide, and a constant quest for a lottery ticket weighted in freedom."

This performance was certainly of high-caliber and definitely one that should not have been missed. If you did miss it, check out the video below and be sure to check out the Weis Center’s future offerings, among which are even more, fantastic dance performances.

http://vimeo.com/55470300

What We ThinkCaroline Carey