Dance Alloy Theater's Fragile

An important member of Pittsburgh’s cultural scene, Dance Alloy Theater (DAT) is well known for its flair and style in productions of contemporary dance works. Under the supervision of Beth Corning, the company’s director, the up-and-coming presentation of Fragile promises to match DAT’s tradition of excellence.

A three-piece show meant to explore the power of human connections through movement, Fragile’s choreography is the product of three creative minds. Fragile features two debuts, Tony Award nominee Donald Byrd’s “No Consolation” and Corning’s “Flight,” in addition to a signature piece by Susan Marshall, “Arms.” All three works speak to the theme of human interactions, the impact each pass-ing exchange or loss leaves on individuals, as well as the human desire for contact and intimacy.

Byrd created “No Consolation” specifically for DAT. He was inspired by a program he watched about a young man’s death in a bicycling accident and the steps his family took to ensure his memory lived on. “[Byrd] saw this and he was so moved by the way they had come together that he created this piece,” said Lauren Urbschat, the public relations official for DAT. “It’s about all the things there really are no words for, like when a young person is taken totally unexpectedly.”

First performed in 1984, Marshall’s “Arms” is a five-minute duet depicting a conversation between dancers that is almost entirely performed through arms. Fragile will be the Pittsburgh premier of this rendition of “Arms.”

The final piece is the artistic vision of Corning, and was inspired by a poem she read about the migration of Byrds titled “Accidents” by Norwegian poet Dag T. Stramsvag. An air ballet, “Flight” encapsulates the world of the poem through dance, in addition to exploring a sense of community. “It’s about being part of a group versus being alone — and how you’re always sort of doing both,” said Urbschat. Corning choreographed the piece for DAT’s company of five dancers.

Founded in 1976, DAT began as a company of eight dancers. Four years later, the studio opened its own classes for prospective students in the neighboring Pittsburgh area. Throughout its history, DAT’s dance pieces have been commissioned by both established and emerging choreographers alike, allowing DAT’s company to tour both nationally and globally. The company performances have ranged from seasons in New York City to tours abroad, including countries like Hungary and Bulgaria. DAT’s 30-year history has been a successful one, especially given its growth in national and international acclaim, and its popularity throughout Pittsburgh.

Additionally, DAT offers classes in many different styles of dance, including ballet, modern, jazz, and hip-hop. These non-competitive programs offer students several diverse ways to express themselves through movement. Dancers of all levels are welcome and encouraged to visit the studios.

What is particularly interesting about Fragile is its target audience: college students. Students will receive $2 discounts on tickets, and one of the performance nights — “College Night with European Dessert Intermission” — is specifically themed to attract local students. Also, the Sunday matinee performance is “pay what you can,” meaning the show has no official ticket price. With the combination of discounts and cake, who could refuse a trip this weekend to Dance Alloy Theater?