It's a safe bet that the Nichole Canuso Dance Company's production TAKES, at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, will be unlike anything else audiences will see this dance season.
TAKES is the latest multimedia project by Philadelphia-based dancer/choreographer Canuso and Los Angeles multimedia artist Lars Jan. It continues their concept of "taking video out of its square," says Canuso, something they initiated with 2008's Wandering Alice, where video was projected on the performers' bodies.
In TAKES, live video feeds from three cameras will capture the actions of Canuso and theater artist Dito Van Reigersberg (of Pig Iron Theatre Company). The video will then be processed by computer software and projected onto four semi-transparent fabric walls comprising a large onstage box containing Canuso and Reigersberg. The audience will witness not only a panoramic videoscape, but also, looking through that videoscape, a live dance performance.
Area audiences were introduced to Canuso's work at last year's newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival, where she and her company performed the (stripped-down-by-comparison) gestural trio "Folcanzani."
The new 60-minute work, which premiered last September at The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, gets its name from a cinematic term meaning multiple iterations of the same scene. Canuso says she and Jan wanted to create a work that combined the ways in which we as viewers watch a movie (having it unfold in front of us); view an art installation (moving around it to see it from different angles); and absorb a live dance performance (experiencing something that is ephemeral).
TAKES follows the relationship between two characters over time. The imagery is presented "like a collection of photo snapshots washed up on the shore," says Canuso, by phone from Philadelphia. "They are out of order and some of them are faded while others are sharp and crisp."
Canuso sees these images as the little moments in a relationship, such as playing records together or writing each other letters.
Within the box the dancers occupy, there are also are a number of objects created by designer Maiko Matsushima (bird cage, mini Ferris wheel, writing table) that the dancers interact with. Along with Michael Kiley's atmospheric soundscape, mixing original composition with nature sounds and recorded music, the effect suggests an abstract world where a range of emotions and states of being in these characters' lives is depicted.
Perhaps most unusually, audiences can choose between two viewing options. For two of the three performances, the audience will be seated onstage for an up-close view of TAKES, with the option to move around to watch from different angles. The third showing offers a traditional theatrical seating experience.
Nichole Canuso Dance Company performs TAKES 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 14, and 7 p.m. Sat., Jan. 15 (both limited seating). Also 9 p.m. Sat., Jan. 15 (general seating). Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. $15-25. 412-363-3000 or www.kelly-strayhorn.org