Exciting. Scary. Satisfying. Frightening. Those are the kinds of emotions that have running through Kyle Abraham’s mind since June.
The Penn Hills native has been on a steep artistic curve lately with the success of “The Radio Show,” largely inspired by the silencing of WAMO, a pivotal part of Pittsburgh’s black community and his father, a pivotal part of Kyle’s life, who also stopped speaking when he contracted aphasia.
Certain subsequent events have been sad because some of his original company dancers have opted to have children and can no longer tour. At the same time, he’s getting plenty of opportunities to tour with the support of the prestigious National Dance Project.
It’s been a big slice of life for the still 30-something choreographer.
From the Joyce Theater’s Gotham Dance Festival performance in June, he’s been on the go. Some of the highlights: a return to Jacob’s Pillow for the second year in a row, the Fire Island Dance Festival, a number of residencies and adding fellow Pittsburgher Patrick Ferreri as company manager.
Kyle also found out that he is “the big poster boy person” for the dance season at his alma mater, SUNY Purchase, where his company will be appearing. He jokes that he “has such an inner giggle because I was probably the only guy in the dance program who did not enter with a scholarship” (although the school rectified that after the first semester and has offered continued support).
On his way to Ecuador in July, Kyle heard that his father was in hospice care. He made a quick stop, a good thing because he learned that his father had passed the day after he got back. “I’m glad I got to see him,” Kyle says, although his dancers had to work on a residency without him while he dealt with funeral arrangements. People responded with “a lot of letters and donations” and the International Aphasia Movement has since expressed an interest in “The Radio Show.”
These days, though, the grieving comes in waves. But Kyle doesn’t allow it to engulf him. He will be heading back to the Joyce in January on a program with fellow NDP recipient Kate Weare and, in the meantime, premiere his latest project, “Live: The Realest MC,” at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.
“Live” will be a re-imagining of Pinocchio and his quest to be a real boy, “putting that into a gay urban context.” Kyle says that the piece took a darker turn when the Tyler Clementi story, about the gifted 18-year old Rutgers student who was outed on the Internet and committed suicide, broke in the middle of the creative process.
Tyler’s tragedy influenced the work, giving it a more aggressive outlook with much more movement. But there is still “a bit of humor” to be had in “Live.
As there is in Kyle’s return to Pittsburgh to visit some of his favorite haunts. Record Exchange, “one of my favorite stores.” Michael Varone at Shadyside’s Moda, where Kyle used to work and where his dad shopped. Gullifty’s for the apple pie.
And pizza in general, because Pittsburgh’s “doesn’t taste like any other.” Therein lies the quandary, because Kyle can’t choose between Aiello’s and Mineo’s. So he just gets both because “one tastes better warm than the other and one tastes better cold than the other.”
Which is which? You’ll have to ask Kyle.
Check Listings for the Abraham.In.Motion performance of “Live: The Realest MC” this weekend.