Jazz and ballet will intersect next week at Pittsburgh's Benedum Theatre.
In a bold and progressive move, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, in partnership with the Manchester Craftmen's Guild, will dance to the music of four musicians with connections to Pittsburgh. The production, Indigo in Motion, debuts Thursday (May 4) and runs through Sunday.
The production will focus on the music of bassist Ray Brown, saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, pianist Billy Strayhorn and songs associated with singer Lena Horne. Turrentine recorded his last album, Do You Have Any Sugar, in 1999.
Brown and Turrentine wrote compositions for the program and will be performing. Pittsburgh native and Juilliard School of Music graduate Vivian Reed will sing such Horne tunes as "Lady Is a Tramp" and "Stormy Weather." Horne is not expected to be in attendance.
"I am really honored to be performing the music associated with Lena," Reed said. "Lena brought so much of her own style to each performance. I want to interpret the music in my way."
The project was funded in part by a $1 million grant from the Lila WallaceReader's Digest Fund, a New Yorkbased foundation.
Each tribute will spotlight choreography from Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Kevin O'Day and Dwight Rhoden. A local jazz orchestra has been assembled to provide musical accompaniment for the performances.
O'Day, who danced with Twyla Tharp and later joined the American Ballet Theatre, worked with music of Brown and Turrentine. Taylor-Corbett, a former choreographer at the American Ballet Theatre, focuses on Horne's oeuvre.
Rhoden, who is a former principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company, has choreographed routines to accompany Strayhorn's music. They will feature approximately 30 dancers and focus on 11 Strayhorn compositions, including "Lush Life" and "Take the A-Train."
"I've been wanting to work with the music of Strayhorn for a long time," said Rhoden. "My mission is to pay tribute to him. It's a celebration of his music."