(BECKET, Mass.) – Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion will perform its evening-length dance piece, Pavement, about the decline of inner-city black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow from Wednesday, August 21, through Sunday, August 25, 2013.
The diverse music used in the work range from classical greats such as Johann Christian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi to electronic music from Hudson Mohawke and blues from Donny Hathaway. Sprinkled throughout the musical scores is onstage chatter and various sound clips.
The aim of the work, according to choreographer Kyle Abraham, is “to create an emotional chronology of a culture conflicted with a history plagued by discrimination, genocide, and a constant quest for a lottery ticket weighted in freedom.” A source of inspiration for the creation of Pavement was Abraham’s hometown of Pittsburgh, specifically the neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District. These historically black areas thrived with art and culture in the 1950s, with jazz legends the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performing at local theaters, but later turned to centers of drugs and gang violence.
Abraham drew further inspiration from crime-drama film Boyz n the Hood (1991) and its portrayal of the state of Black American males at the end of the 20th century, as well as from Great Barrington, Mass., native W.E.B. Du Bois’ book The Souls of Black Folk.
In Pavement, seven dancers take the stage in movement influenced by urban culture with strength and technical excellence. The work begins with a powerful solo performed by Abraham accompanied by Fred McDowell’s blues song “What’s the Matter Now.” The full cast sweeps the space in various solos, duets, and group sections.
Pavement gains a clear sense of place through the set design by Dan Scully and the costume choices by Abraham, both of which portray life in an urban neighborhood. Included in the set is a chain-link fence and basketball hoop, whose backboard occasionally reflects film footage of housing projects and community infrastructures, courtesy of Pittsburgh filmmaker Chris Ivey. The costumes consist of casual, pedestrian clothing.
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion was founded in 2006 with the mission to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work. Abraham was born into hip-hop culture in the late 1970s and grounded into an artistic upbringing in classical cello, piano, and the visual arts. The goal of Abraham’s movement is to delve into identity in relation to a personal history.