On Stage: Attack-ing Chatham Baroque

Well, Attack Theater, a true Pittsburgh dance treasure, is well into the third quarter of its fascinating Grand Experiment — not pairing, but quadrupling the music benefits in its latest project, “Site/Re-site.” Yes, four bands nudging the movement in different directions on different nights. The first two were covered in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Last night Attack took a 180 degree turn from Deoro’s wild-eyed musical adventure when it took on Chatham Baroque. Of course the opening scene in Becca’s Bar and Grill didn’t change… as much. But still, I loved the moment when all six of the Attackers danced on the bar to “Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi?”– as dextrous and daring as mountain goats.

And the bands seem to respond to that attitude, venturing above and beyond their comfort zones. For the second and third segments, Chatham Baroque, in turn a true classical music treasure in Pittsburgh, was the band of the night. Perhaps it was most apparent with this particular combination how the various groups met on common ground.

CB offered a widespread selection, including a tango-ripe piece for Dane Toney and Ashley Williams, who was so generous in her subsequent solo, and a pastoral frolic for Michele de la Reza and Jeff Davis, both of whom share a musical intuition that seems to defy description. It was nifty to see how the dancers adapted to Chatham Baroque’s meticulous rhythms, adding crisp finishes to the phrasing. Then Liz Chang’s solo took on a surprising contemporary flavor, with percussionist Danny Mallon delving into throat-singing with the use of mysterious vocal harmonics. The last, a set of variations that sounded like “La Folia,” was one crescendo of increasing sophistication that was reflected in the dance.

How about the musicians not going for Baroque, but for pop? And that they did in the finale, where CB brought a fresh voice to selections by the other bands. Take the way the rusty steel door, where Peter and Michele exchanged glances, contrasted with violinist Andrew Fouts’ use of harmonics. And he took a turn, his first public vocal ever, at Dave Eggar’s “Birdcage.”

By its very nature, dance exists in moment and then it’s gone forever. With this project, the moments are almost palpable. Chatham Baroque still plays tonight, while Ben Hardt and the Symphony (four rockers plus string quartet) take over Friday and Saturday. An evening not to be missed…

For more information, see Listings.

Photo by Jonathan Greene

Photo by Jonathan Greene

Photo by Jonathan Greene

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