LA BELLA DONNA. When things are going so swimmingly, we resist any changes. We’ve seen Attack Theatre grow from a spontaneous and likable dance ensemble to a stable artistic force that somehow still retains those great attitudes. Executive director Donna Goyak played a major hand in guiding this everyone-wants-to-Friend-them group with her terrific sense of wordplay and an acute business sense toward that stability. Now Donna feels that it’s time to move on and somehow we’re all happy for her, although we hope she stays close at hand. (With La Donna gone, the group will surely stay on track when associate director marketing and corporate partnerships Rebecca Himberger jumps into place. While we’re at it, I have to note Attack’s recent foray once more into the classical music kingdom with Milhaud’s nifty La Crèation du Monde and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony. Although it followed a complete Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert (also dance-oriented, as well as part of the Paris Festival with Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Gershwin’s terrific American in Paris, along with PSO principal cellist Anne Williams in Honegger’s cello concerto), many in the audience stuck around for the work. Conducted by the astute Lawrence Loh, with his talented group doing true justice to the difficult score, the Attackers made the two formerly lethargic children in front of me sit up and take notice. But even for adults, Attack always provides a strong visual interest in its collaborations with Heinz Hall orchestras.
OVERSEAS WITH THE P’S. I caught up with Pearlann Porter about The Pillow Project’s encore trip to Europe. While Paris was once again the centerpiece, with two visits, the two-week May tour also included London, Amsterdam and Dublin. First up was London, where the Pillow dancers could not find any street musicians (“shocking!”), which has rules against that sort of thing. So they headed to a jazz club and then on to Big Ben, Parliament and Piccadilly Circus, where they didn’t loiter per se, but did “intentful and purposeful” neutral movement that perplexed the bobbies a bit, but no more. They found improv master Michael Schumacher in Amsterdam, had some lunch and exchanged ideas and did some similar stillness exercises in this “completely comfortable” and “particular” culture. Paris felt “way more comfortable” because people remembered them. Moe Seager was there and a couple of familiar venues. But the Pittsburgh dancers loved Parisians’ “genuine intrigue about the new — little kids have it.” As for Dublin, it had an “obscene amount of street musicians.” So the Pillow group just “showed up and started going for it,” moving from player to player, “like bar-hopping, but with musicians.” Pearlann also had news of a mini-tour next spring. The Heinz Endowments has funded the Project’s 2012-13 season, made up of five full performances. It will culminate in a day-long encore at Braddock’s Carrie Furnace sometime in May 2013.
PROJECTS AND PUPPETS. Firebrand choreographer Beth Corning has a new Glue Factory Project set for this September at the New Hazlett Theater. Called “The Life & Death of Little Finn,” it will include “6 puppets, original animation & other numerous moving parts,” including 3 live performers. In the meantime, she’s in New York for her new Solo Project, where she is working with Tony Award-winning director Dominique Serrand (and director of The Moving Company) over the course of a year. The project is funded by an Individual Artist Grant from the Heinz and Pittsburgh foundations. See an animation preview by clicking on Little_Finn_She_Left.html
THE BIG 80.Yes, Jacob’s Pillow is celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, with plenty of great dance attractions. If you’re in the neighborhood (western Massachusetts), check it out. Click on www.jacobspillow.org.