UCSB Arts & Lectures presents the West Coast premiere of Pavement, performed by urban dance company Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23 at UCSB Campbell Hall (second show added!). The appearance marks the Santa Barbara debut of Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion.
One of the most groundbreaking and sought-after artists of recent years, Abraham creates movement that is fresh, unique and innovative. In his newest work, Pavement, he layers urban and classical dance influences, provocative imagery and gripping, voluptuous movement.
Inspired by the neighborhoods of his youth, John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood and W.E.B. Dubois’ classic essay “The Souls of Black Folk,” Pavement pays comedic homage to the bold Kriss Kross/backward jeans/hi-top fade era in hip-hop, while reflecting on the growth and loss of Pittsburgh’s historically black neighborhoods. (Mature content due to language.)
Abraham writes: “In 1991, I was 14 and entering the ninth grade at Schenley High School in the historic Hill District of Pittsburgh. That same year, John Singleton’s film, Boyz n the Hood, was released. For me, the film depicted an idealized ‘Gangsta Boheme’ laying aim to the state of the black American male at the end of the 20th century. Twenty years later and more than 10 years into the 21st century, I am focused on investigating the state of Black America and a history therein.
“Reimagined as a dance work and now set in Pittsburgh’s historically black neighborhoods, East Liberty, Homewood and the Hill District, Pavement aims to create a strong emotional chronology of a culture conflicted with a history plagued by discrimination, genocide and a constant quest for a lottery ticket weighted in freedom.
“Looking primarily at Homewood and the Hill District, their histories run parallel. Both experienced a cultural shift in the 1950s when jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington performed at local theaters, and where Billy Strayhorn spent most of his teenage years. A half a century later, those same theaters became dilapidated. The streets that once flourished on family-run businesses and a thriving jazz scene, now show the sad effects of gang violence and crack cocaine.”
About Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
The mission of Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion is to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work. Born into hip-hop culture in the late ’70s and grounded in Abraham’s artistic upbringing in classical cello, piano and the visual arts, the goal of the movement is to delve into identity in relation to a personal history.
The work entwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on sound, human behavior and all things visual, in an effort to create an avenue for personal investigation on stage. A/I/M is a representation of dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds. Combined together, these individuals create movement that is manipulated and molded into something fresh and unique. Abraham.In.Motion is a proud supporter of Dancers Responding to AIDS.
About Kyle Abraham
Abraham, 2013 MacArthur Fellow, began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy and the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Pittsburgh. He continued his dance studies in New York, receiving a B.F.A. from SUNY Purchase and an M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
In 2012, Abraham was named the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, USA Ford Fellow and the newly appointed New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist for 2012-2014. That same year, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater premiered Abraham’s work Another Night at New York’s City Center to rave reviews. Vogue writes, “What Abraham brings to Ailey is an avant-garde aesthetic, an original and politically minded downtown sensibility that doesn’t distinguish between genres but freely draws on a vocabulary that is as much Merce and Martha as it is Eadweard Muybridge and Michael Jackson.” Abraham received a prestigious Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for his work in The Radio Show and a Princess Grace Award for Choreography in 2010. The previous year he was selected as one of Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch and in 2008 received a Jerome Travel and Study Grant.
His choreography has been presented throughout the U.S. and abroad, most recently at On the Boards, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, REDCAT, Philly Live Arts, Portland’s Time-Based Art Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Bates Dance Festival, Harlem Stage, Fall for Dance Festival at New York’s City Center, Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum in Japan, Andy Warhol Museum, Kelly Strayhorn Theater and Byham Theater in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
In addition to performing and developing new works for his company, Abraham.In.Motion, Abraham recently premiered The Serpent and The Smoke, a new pas de deux for himself and acclaimed Bessie Award-winning dancer and New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Wendy Whelan as part of Restless Creature at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. In 2011, Out Magazine described Abraham as the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama.”
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion performance is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. Supported in part by the Cohen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Media Sponsors: KCSB 91.9 FM and KFYZ 94.5 FM.
Tickets are $35 for the general public and $19 for UCSB students with a current student ID.
For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at 805.893.3535 or purchase online by clicking here.
— Karna Hughes is a senior publicist for UCSB Arts & Lectures.