Choreographer Mary Miller's latest work accompanies an art exhibit about war's aftermath. | Dance + Live Performance | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Choreographer Mary Miller's latest work accompanies an art exhibit about war's aftermath.

"At the same time it represents the positive way we band together and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps."

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War's aftermath is a legacy of broken buildings, broken lives and broken dreams. In Out of Rubble: The Phoenix Rising, choreographer Mary Miller creates a dance work inspired by her reactions to selected artworks in the exhibition Out of Rubble, at Downtown's Space Gallery.

Curated by artist and Carnegie Mellon University art professor Susanne Slavick, the exhibit features work by 16 international artists (including Slavick) responding to the wake of war. Their works consider war's causes and consequences and the possibilities for recovery and rebirth. 

The expressions of rebirth in the exhibit were of particular interest to Miller in creating her own work, to be performed by her company MillerDANCE on Dec. 9 and 10 at Space. For instance, there's Slavick's depiction of an automobile accident, a real-life photograph to which she has added a surreal painted image of a phoenix sitting atop one of the cars. There's also a hopeful chromogenic print by artist Simon Norfolk, depicting Afghan refugees and the remains of the Halat-Fidar Bridge.

"The exhibit shows us some very negative things about what we do to each other, but at the same time it represents the positive way we band together and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps," says Miller.  

Her 90-minute non-narrative modern dance work for five dancers (including Miller) is set to original music by cellist Katya Janpoladyan, of Pittsburgh's Freya String Quartet. Janpoladyan will play her composition live to accompany both performances. 

The piece is broken into three sections. Miller sees "Search and Survive," "Connecting and Rebuilding" and "Celebrating and Remembering" as the stages people go through in the aftermath of war. The dance piece will use some of the exhibit's art as a backdrop. 

Out of Rubble: The Phoenix Rising continues a recent trend by Miller and her 27-year-old company of creating dance in collaboration with an art exhibition. In 2010, for instance, MillerDANCE presented three works in concert with Toronto-based installation artist David Rokeby's sound sculpture Dark Matter.

In addition to Out of Rubble: The Phoenix Rising performances, audiences will also have the opportunity to interact with Slavick and Miller during a pre-show wine and chat on Dec. 9, and a post-show reception on Dec. 10. 

 

MillerDANCE performs OUT OF RUBBLE: THE PHOENIX RISING 8:30 p.m. Fri., Dec. 9, and 8:30 p.m. Sat., Dec. 10. Space Gallery, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $15-20. 412-434-1169 or www.proartstickets.org

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