Tuesday, May 7, 2013

For a last dance in the Strip District

When we were planning this trip and doubled the time we would spent in town we thought that would give us finally enough time to do all the things we would like to do and meet all people we know and love in Pittsburgh. That was of course very naive and did not work out - at all. 

Nevertheless we were diligent workers and filled some of the important gaps in our Strip District project. One of those missing parts was learning more about the dancing people of the Strip

At first we met with the team of the Attack Theater. When we arrived the they were sitting in the sun (smart people) right between their studio in the former Westinghouse Air Break Factory (where you find also practicing and administrative space of  the Pittsburgh Opera) and a second studio they use close by. We chatted about the Strip and how Attack spreads out into the neighborhood they calll their home with performances and events before we went to one of the studios. 

Between the decoration pieces from the just celebrated legendary Dirty Ball and - mostly custom made and self developed - requisites Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza let us have a fascinating look into the creative work of a dance company and especially one that is closely connected with Pittsburgh. It was wonderful and made the idea of going back home to my so much less creative and a lot less physical (aka sitting whole day on my butt starring in my computer) daytime job a little more difficult than it already is.
If you have a chance to see Attack performing - go and let them kidnap you from your "real" world into a world of music, dance and story telling!

Only a few blocks away on Liberty Avenue we could experience a more classical take on dance theater right the next morning when we went to visit the Pittsburgh Ballet. Similar to the Opera the Ballet performs Downtown in the Cultural District but moved in the 80ies to a wonderful old building in the Strip.
The Ballet does not only hold practices for their breathtaking professional performances in this facility but also has a huge dance school. There are classes for kids of all ages - from small kids mostly from Pittsburgh and the communities around up to young dancers from all around the country and international students just one step away from a professional dance career. As you can imagine the house is buzzing with talented, young and beautiful people. 

Just like the other performing artists we talked to artistic director Terrence Orr pointed out how much he and his staff, dancers and students love to be in the Strip and how the centrally located facility close by but yet out of Downtown suits the company. 

Saying good bye

After our take on the performing arts in the Strip District the rest of our time ran out fast. We met with friends, went to another hockey game and took a last heavy hearted stroll in the Strip. Pittsburgh was of course showing off all its beauty in the crisp spring sunshine and made it even more difficult to leave, but we had to. 

After the traditional final breakfast in our "living room" Espresso A Mano (I miss the place already!) and huge farwell hugs we drove to the airport - without GPS of course (we won't take one next time, we really do not need it anymore) and started the trip home. The flight was long but smooth and now it is the jetlag we have to fight and the urge to go back right away. 

We would like to thank everybody we had the chance to meet along the way. We feel incredibly spoiled by the love and support of our friends, who ignored their own schedules to make time for us, opened their hearts and homes and made impossible things possible for us ALL THE TIME!  It is YOU who create the breathtaking magic of Pittsburgh.

We also are very grateful that again so many people all over the city and especially in the Strip took the time to show us around, tell stories about the neighborhood, share their point of view and encouraged us to keep working on our project.
We have now the materials we need, got the next steps lined out and feel encouraged and empowered to make it happen. 

Pittsburgh, we love you every time a little more. We'll be back as soon as possible! 

All polaroids by Gabrijela Obert

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