The Realest of the Real 

Kyle Abraham Tackles Authenticity and Identity

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In a time when gender roles, sexual norms, and minority cultures are all very much in flux, Pittsburgh-based choreographer Kyle Abraham offers a provocative, timely perspective on identity and personal connection.

The only group with two shows in this year's fest, Abraham.In.Motion is a young but already widely heralded and sought-after dance ensemble. Formed just five years ago, the company is currently touring the country with multiple pieces in repertory.

The Radio Show is built on themes of failing communication, presenting a narrative of an urban community losing a beloved radio station, plus a subplot involving a family dealing with the deteriorating effects of Alzheimer's.

Live! The Realest MC is a work in development, commissioned for a December premiere at NYC experimental arts haven the Kitchen. Exploring the changing expressions of masculinity and sexuality in black American culture through the framework of the familiar Pinocchio tale (with an infusion of hiphop karaoke), this performance reveals the struggle and confusion behind the effort to become "real"—whatever that may mean.

Fusing diverse styles from classical ballet to postmodern and street dance, Abraham channels intense personal experience through athletic, impassioned movement tempered by fulfilled stillness. The diverse and collaborative ensemble builds on Abraham's real stories The Alzheimer's sufferer is his father, the radio station was in his hometown, the "real boy" is coming out of the closet, creating grounded, close-to-home relationships on stage.

Abraham's artistic involvement in the work doesn't end with the dance and choreography; he mixes the scores as well. As you can infer from the title, The Radio Show involves a strong audio component to the storyline. Original compositions by dancer Amber Lee Parker mingle with recognizable community radio sounds, from R&B and hiphop to talk-show patter and static.

Portland should be excited to see even one work from this bold, contemporary group, yet we are treated to two—a testament to both their dogged work ethic and the strong ideas bursting forth from it. These pieces are fresh, energetic, emotional, and bleedingly relevant. In short, Abraham.In.Motion is exactly what TBA is about. Abraham's artistic involvement in the work doesn't end with the dance and choreography; he mixes the scores as well. As you can infer from the title, The Radio Show involves a strong audio component to the storyline. Original compositions by dancer Amber Lee Parker mingle with recognizable community radio sounds, from R&B and hiphop to talk-show patter and static.

Portland should be excited to see even one work from this bold, contemporary group, yet we are treated to two—a testament to both their dogged work ethic and the strong ideas bursting forth from it. These pieces are fresh, energetic, emotional, and bleedingly relevant. In short, Abraham.In.Motion is exactly what TBA is about.

Kyle Abraham

Live! The Realest MC!, Washington High School, 531 SE 14th, Tues Sept 13 8:30 pm, $10-15

The Radio Show, Dolores Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Fri Sept 9-Sun Sept 11 6:30 pm, $15-20

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