Masked, physically distant, performed remotely: the Pittsburgh dance troupe presents a short film


Attack Theater is that rare, established Pittsburgh-based arts group that moved their headquarters during the coronavirus pandemic. Now he’s showing off his new home in a short, the production of which was itself an adaptation for the age of physical distancing.

Attack Theater presents “I: I” by Janessa Clark: 7:30 pm Friday January 22 and 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm Saturday January 23

“I: I” is a collaboration between the longtime contemporary dance company and Janessa Clark, internationally renowned filmmaker and choreographer. (She said the title is a graphic which can be pronounced “One to One”, “I to I” or whatever you prefer.)

Out of respect for the pandemic, Clark never met any of the troop in person. In fact, the whole project was developed, shot and edited without ever leaving her house in Brooklyn.

“This is one of the strangest practices that we have gotten ourselves into,” said Clark, whose credits include founding New York-based dance collective Janessa Clark / KILTERBOX and Stockholm-based nomadthenewcompany.

Attack, like most artistic groups, has filmed work for presentation online. The group’s “Cello Diaries” series, for example, involved dancers filming themselves at home. “I: I” was a little more involved.

Credit Maria Baranova Suzuki


Filmmaker and choreographer Janessa Clark

Clark met the four dancers – Simon Phillips, Dane Toney, Sarah Zielinski and Attack Artistic Director Michele de la Reza – via Zoom, and each developed a solo contribution to the film from their homes. Confidence, too, had to be built from a distance.

“Getting around together while being apart was really an important part of this process, and I have to say these artists are incredibly adaptable and creative,” Clark said.

She took a ‘video tour’ of the group’s new space – its austere concrete stairwells and landing, small rooms and large, airy studio – with Pittsburgh-based cinematographer Joshua Sweeny. The iconic building at the corner of 45th Street and Butler Street in Lawrenceville was once the Boys And Girls Club of Pittsburgh.

“The space has become a big part of the movie,” said Toney, who also served as an assistant director and editor. “It really is his own character.”

The rehearsals also took place via Zoom. And the filming took place with Clark present only via electronic devices.

“We had it on the laptop on a little rolling cart that we were moving,” Toney said. “It was very ‘Jetsons’,” he added with a laugh.

The first section of the 15-minute film consciously reflects the isolation of its creators, with masked-faced dancers performing solo in confined spaces. Later scenes show them coming together – but with the exception of a remote group dance, which involves post-production work that makes the dancers feel like the dancers are in the same space when they actually are. played separately.

Composer David Shane Smith contributed his electronic score from Santa Fe, NM

The new work situation shows only one way artists coped during the pandemic.

“I feel like artists have really come out of their shell and found creative ways to address the issues of this isolation that we have to work in,” she said. “I think it brought out the best in everyone to come together and do something beautiful to share with the audience to provide an escape for the audience. Just to say, “We’re still here, we’re still working. “

The video will be presented in preview with three online screenings on Friday January 22 and Saturday January 23.

Ticket information is here.

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