On/Off Stage: Gia T.

Gia CacalanoGia Cacalano’s first love was visual art (her father was a painter). When she finally moved into dance at age 15, it was ballet that captured her heart. But over the last ten years, she has been wooed by the wonders of improvisation.

But lately she has been widening her dance arena and headed to the International Improvisation Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University. “Hopefully it’s the first of many to come,” she says with her trademark enthusiasm.

So Gia hopped on a plane and, when she landed, jumped right off and into rehearsal. During the week-long stay, she shared cooking and cleaning and movement with the others.

Funded by the university, the Festival was the “baby” of brother Michael Caccialano, who brought in some icons of the improvisational scene including Maida Withers of George Washington University and post-modern dance pioneer Anna Halprin.  India’s Tanusree Shankar (yes she’s related to that Shankar), talked about her students, some of whom walk two hours to get to her studio.

The transfer of knowledge was very rich with films and presentations every day of the week. In an open space Gia Cacalanoon campus, a pianist set up a loose score for people to come in and out of a group.

Gia led master lessons for students and performed the piece she had performed at Wood Street galleries, Complex Stability, but “changed radically.” Musical partner Jeff Berman provided a more structured accompaniment in rhythm and dynamics, so it was still “open, but a little more aligned with time.”

She came back to Pittsburgh with more information, ready to share it with Pittsburgh. Perhaps some ideas filtered into The Frequency of Structure and Flow, recently presented at Wood Street.


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