In 1991, I was fourteen and entering the ninth grade at Schenley High School in the historic Hill District of Pittsburgh. That same year, John Singleton’s film, Boyz N The Hood was released. 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. Twenty years later and more than ten years into the 21st century, I am focused on investigating the state of Black America and a history the rein.
Reimagined as a dance work and now set in Pittsburgh’s historically black neighborhoods, East Liberty, 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.
Looking primarily at Homewood and the Hill District, their histories run parallel. Both experienced a cultural shift in the 1950’s when jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performed at local theaters, and Billy Strayhorn spent most of his teenage years. A half a century later, those same theaters became dilapidated. The streets that once flourished on family run businesses and a thriving jazz scene, now show the sad effects of gang violence and crack cocaine.
“Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as a natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the ‘higher’ against the ‘lower’ races.” W.E.B Du Bois
Photo 1 © Steven Schreiber.
Photo 2 © Steven Schreiber.
Photo 3 © Steven Schreiber.
A rising star on the New York scene, Kyle Abraham is coming to Montreal with a piece that evokes the racial tensions in the black neighbourhoods of his hometown of Pittsburgh. This moving story of seven individuals is told through a fascinating blend of urban, modern and classical dance, plus theatre. Sensational!
His choreography has been presented across the United States and in Germany, Jordan, Ecuador, Ireland and Japan. An installation piece of his was featured at Springboard Montreal in 2008.
2012 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient and 2012 USA Ford Fellow, Kyle Abraham, began his training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He continued his dance studies in New York, receiving a BFA from SUNY Purchase and an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.In November 2012, Abraham was named the newly appointed New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned...Read more about Kyle Abraham
The mission of Abraham.In.Motion is to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work. Born into Hip hop culture in the late 70's and grounded in Abraham's artistic upbringing in classical cello, piano, and the visual arts, the goal of the movement is to delve into identity in relation to a personal history. The work entwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on sound, human behavior and all things visual...Read more about Abraham.In.Motion
Choreography Kyle Abraham in collaboration with Abraham.In.Motion.
Dramaturge Charlotte Brathwaite.
Editing Advisor Alexandra Wells.
Costume Design Kyle Abraham.
Scenic/Lighting Designer Dan Scully.
Public Programs Developer Maritza Mosquera.
Sound Editing Sam Crawford.
Video images courtesy of Chris Ivey.
Music J.C. Bach, Jacques Brel, Benjamin Britten, Antonio Caldara, Sam Cooke, Colin Davis, Emmanuelle Haïm, Heather Harper, Donny Hathaway, Edward Howard, Concerto Köln, Philippe Jaroussky, Le Cercle De L'Harmonie, Alan Lomax, Ensemble Matheus, Fred McDowell, Hudson Mohawke, Alva Noto, Jérémie Rhorer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carl Sigman, Jean-Christophe Spinosi, and Antonio Vivaldi. Performers Kyle Abraham, Matthew Baker, Ayo Janeen Jackson, Chalvar Monteiro, Jeremy “Jae” Neal, Maleek Washington, and Eric Williams
The creation and presentation of Pavement is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the New England Foundation for the Arts though the National Dance Project. Major support for NDP is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and TheAndrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation. Support from the NEA provides funding for choreographers in the early stages of their careers. Developed in part during a Choreographic Fellowship at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, Pavement was also created during a residency provided by The Joyce Theater Foundation, New York City, with major support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as during a residency provided by The Joyce Theater Foundation, New York City, with major support from The Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The creation of Pavement was made possible, in part, by the Danspace Project Commissioning Initiative with support from the Jerome Foundation. Pavement was developed, in part, during a creative residency at the Bates Dance Festival. Pavement is made possible, in part, by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Swing Space program. Harlem Stage is the Lead Commissioner of Pavement, through its WaterWorks program.
Pavement had its world premiere at The Harlem Stage Gatehouse on November 2-3, 2012. WaterWorks is supported by Time Warner and the National Endowment for the Arts.