KST Blog

Welcome to the KST Blog!

The KST Blog serves as an alternative view of the KST programming, showcasing our artist talk series, press, and more!

  1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: House Party Returns with a Night of Interactive Performance and Celebration

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater is pleased to announce that House Party, the organization’s annual summer benefit, will come to East Liberty on Saturday, July 22, 2023. House Party celebrates the legacy of KST with a night of entertainment and unforgettable flavor from local artists, including music and dance artists anna thompson and taylor knight of slowdanger with lighting and visual effects artist Cornelius Henke III, also known as ProjectileObjects, and multimedia queer-oriented video, installation, and performance artist Scott Andrew. Funds raised through House Party will support the KST Presents Fall 2023 season.

    Inspired by the theatrics of Studio 54 and the iconic fashion of the Met Gala, House Party brings the mood with an immersive atmosphere and live performance. From the instagram-worthy VIP Reception to the rapturous Dance Party, you can expect a night of cool fantasy in the thick of Summer.

    Beginning at 7:00pm, VIP guests will arrive to encounter an installation in the KST lobby of digital portraits featuring the House Party Host Committee and KST Board of Directors created by Scott Andrew. Andrew has been a Pittsburgh resident for seventeen years, where he is a professor of digital media at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Andrew co-founded the group Fail-Safe, a reoccurring frame for experimental performance, with artists Angela Washko and Jesse Styles, which was presented in the Fall 2022 season at KST. Andrew has also created media design and installations for House Party ‘22, last year’s Suite Life, and the March 2020 Freshworks presentation of I am a Haunted House in collaboration with dance artist Jesse Factor.

    Moving through the lobby, VIPs will encounter a transformed Theater, with the reception occurring on the main stage and throughout the auditorium. There, attendees will hear from Executive Director Joseph Hall and Board Chair Adam Golden, enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, and have exclusive access to an open bar. From the stage and the loge seating, VIPs will enjoy a performance from Pittsburgh staple slowdanger. Featuring their signature blend of electronic music, slithering and undulating movement vocabulary, and sharp eye for riveting and evocative aesthetics, slowdanger in collaboration with ProjectileObjects will present a short performance on a uniquely installed temporary stage constructed over the theater’s orchestra seating.

    Presented in the round for VIPs to experience from anywhere in the auditorium, the performance will give patrons a taste of the artists’ special brand of movement. slowdanger will be back at KST as a part of the Fall 2023 season, supported by House Party, with a new evening-length work to be announced later this summer. The project currently in development with support from KST was recently awarded $101,500 from New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project program.

    Additionally, VIPs can have their fortune told to them through tarot card readings by Amber Eps a.k.a. Hollyhood and get custom House Party temporary tattoos from artist Zhen Lee.

    Following the VIP reception, guests move to the KST lobby for a signature dance party with disco vibes! Dance Party guests can join from 9:00pm – 12:00am to get down and celebrate KST with the East Liberty community, and will receive one drink ticket after which they can purchase signature House Party cocktails from the KST bar!

    “House Party is our summer blow-out party that showcases the work we do to support artists throughout the year,” said KST Executive Director Joseph Hall. “We invite you to join us for this once a year spectacular event! We encourage guests to dress to impress and get ready to sweat it out on the dance floor as only one does at KST.”

    House Party is supported by our Host Committee: Kenya T. Boswell, Dana Bishop-Root, Anne Chen, Gina & Idris Evans, Sherree Goldstein, David Finegold, Kenya Matthews, Rep. La’Tasha D. Mayes, Khari Mosley, Jessica Gaynelle Moss, Richard Parsakian, Barb Pugh, Hon. Erika Strassburger, Kannu Sahni, Gina Winstead & Donny Donovan. Thanks to our generous sponsors, Duolingo, Pittsburgh City Paper, FHL Bank, UPMC Health Plan, and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield & Allegheny Health Network for supporting House Party and the Fall 2023 KST Presents Season. You can support KST HERE

    Download the .pdf HERE

    Join KST for House Party on Saturday, July 22. Immersive VIP Reception 7:00pm – 9:00pm and Dance Party 9:00pm – 12:00am at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn. Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You: $50 – $250 For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, visit kelly-strayhorn.org.


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    taylor knight and anna thompson are co-founding artistic directors of the Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary performance entity slowdanger. Founded in 2013, slowdanger uses movement, integrative technology, found material, electronic instrumentation, vocalization, physiological centering, and ontological examination to produce their performance work. The more they engage in this collaborative work, the more they recognize the manifestation of their work as a non-binary entity that is one body amassed of multiple bodies in space. Each work seeks a deeper understanding through the practice of making. This ever evolving process is akin to the construction zone where inspiration was drawn for the name, slowdanger. anna and taylor have worked with Sidra Bell, Francesca Harper, Roderick George, Bill Shannon, MICHIYAYA Dance, Nile Harris, Jasmine Hearn, Maree Remalia|merrygogo, CorningWorks, Mark C. Thompson, The Pillow Project |Pearlann Porter, Jil Stifel, Shantelle Courvoisier Jackson and more.

    Cornelius Henke III, a.k.a. ProjectileObjects, is a multi-talented creative with a passion for video production and performance art. His work spans various mediums, including music videos, motion graphics, live events, and interactive installations. As a former fellow and artist in residence at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, Cornelius has had the opportunity to showcase in venues including 9:30 Club, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art. He has participated in residencies at MANCC, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, The Yard Martha’s Vineyard, and Catskill Mountain Foundation. Cornelius is a contributing writer for VIDVOX and a partner at Merging Media, a boutique digital media production company based in Pittsburgh, PA.

    Scott Andrew is a multimedia queer-oriented video, installation,  and performance artist. He creates speculative fantasies that peer into otherworldly portals and voids. He has exhibited at MoMA’s PopRally Performance Series (NYC), Ballroom Marfa (Marfa, TX), the Hammer Museum (LA), and the J. Paul Getty Museum (LA), among others. Scott co-curates TQ Live! a yearly LGBTQ+ variety series that has been presented at the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Along with Angela Washko and Jesse Stiles, Scott organizes a National Endowment for the Arts funded performance series called Fail-Safe, which seeks to provide a supportive space for the presentation and potential failure of performative works-in-progress. Other previous curatorial projects include the drift and the Institute for New Feeling’s Felt Book.

    Dr. Amber Epps a.k.a. HollyHood a.k.a. Amber the Witch is a hedge witch, psychic, trance medium, root worker, and daughter of Oyá. As co-owner of Arts & Crafts: Botanica & Occult Shop, she and her partners were voted #1 psychics/tarot readers in the 2022 Pittsburgh City Paper’s Best of Reder’s Poll. Amber is also a curator, advocate, educator, musician, mom, and inter and transdisciplinary artist. She loves cats, tacos, and collard greens.

    Yang Zhen Lee is a comics and tattoo artist who likes to dabble in many things. Zhen was in Teresa Martuccio’s Pink Potatoes, and in some City of Play events such as Emotional Landscapes, Intimate Subjects and Fantastic Adventure: Greenfield Bridge. When not rehearsing, Zhen likes playing games, moving through the world in new ways, petting animals, and seeing what art peeps have been making. 

     


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today, Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.
    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.

  2. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Announcing KST Presents: Summer 2023 Season

    I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer—
    its dust and lowering skies. 

    – Toni Morrison

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — The KST Presents Summer 2023 Season is all about building momentum toward Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s immersive summer celebration and dance party, House Party, A Benefit for KST. On Saturday & Sunday, June 10 – 11, KST goes on the road to the Three Rivers Arts Festival, hosted by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. There, at the Trust Oasis @ 7th Street, stop by the House Party Pop-Up Photo Booth and Box Office to snap a selfie and get your tickets to the hottest event of the summer! Then, on Saturday, July 1, KST takes over the CMoA Sculpture Court as part of Inside Out: CMoA’s free summer concert series. Join KST for (Out of the) House Party, an afternoon of performances and beats featuring lys scott, Supa NxC, Erika Denae J, Livefromthecity, YS1 and Le Siren FKA Childlike Empress, that gives museum-goers a taste of the House Party to come!

    Our Six-Week Summer Session of The Alloy School offers a refreshed slate of classes from July 8 through August 12. The session kicks off with an Open House on Saturday, July 8 and includes new offerings: Arts & Crafts, co-taught by Jen Gallagher & her daughter Isabella Papucci, and Acting & Improv with Tru Verret-Fleming. The new classes join Alloy School favorites: West African: Dance & Drum with Yamoussa Camara, Creative Play with Taylor Couch, Kids Jazz with Indira Cunningham, and Hip Hop with Jazmine Bailey to keep everyBODY moving this summer. Don’t forget to join in for the Showcase and Let’s Move! Family Dance Party on Saturday, August 12.

    KST mutual aid resident PearlArts is extending their popular class offerings through the summer! Adult Ballet Club with Andrew Blight and Adult Jazz-Heels Club with Arnita Thompson will run from the weeks of June 6 – August 2 with a break for the 4th of July. SPdp&SS will also be taking over the CMoA sculpture court with Inside Out– INTERIM: Amplified Ecoustics, an immersive performance on Saturday, July 17, and Inside Out Night on Saturday, August 19. 

    Finally, on Saturday July 22, join us at Kelly Strayhorn Theater for our signature benefit supporting the upcoming fall season of programming! House Party celebrates the legacy of KST with a night of spectacular entertainment and unforgettable flavor. Featuring a performance from slowdanger and immersive art by Scott Andrew, partiers will enjoy catered bites and curated cocktails. From the VIP Reception to the Dance Party, expect a night of cool fantasy on the hottest block in East Liberty. 

    For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

    Joseph Hall, Executive Director

    Access the PDF HERE

     


    COMMUNITY
    House Party Pop-up
    Three Rivers Arts Festival

    Saturday & Sunday, June 10 – 11
    12:00pm – 6:00pm

    Trust Oasis @ 7th Street
    FREE

    Click here to learn more…


    MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY
    Sound Series: Dub Corridor
    PearlArts @ The Warhol

    Thursday, June 15
    8:00pm

    The Andy Warhol Museum, Silver Street | 117 Sandusky Street
    Tickets: $5 – $8

    Click here to learn more…


    MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY
    INTERIM: Amplified Ecoustics 
    PearlArts @CMoA: Inside Out

    Saturday, June 17, 2023
    12:00pm – 5:00pm

    Carnegie Museum of Art, Sculpture Court | 4400 Forbes Ave.
    FREE

    Click here to learn more…


    MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY
    (Out of the) House Party
    KST @CMoA: Inside Out

    Saturday, July 1
    12:00pm – 5:00pm 

    Carnegie Museum of Art, Sculpture Court | 4400 Forbes Ave.
    FREE

    Click here to learn more…


    DANCE | COMMUNITY
    The Alloy School Open House  
    Learn About The Alloy School

    Saturday, July 8
    10:00am – 11:00am

    KST’s Alloy Studios | 5530 Penn Ave.
    FREE

    Click here to learn more…


    DANCE | COMMUNITY
    The Alloy School 
    Six Week Summer Session

    Saturdays, July 8 – August 12
    Times Vary

    KST’s Alloy Studios | 5530 Penn Ave.
    Pay What Moves You: $10 – $110

    Click here to learn more…


    DANCE | COMMUNITY
    The Alloy School Showcase
    and Let’s Move! Family Dance Party

    Saturday, August 12
    10:00am Showcase
    11:00am Dance Party

    KST’s Alloy Studios | 5530 Penn Ave.
    Pay What Moves You: $5 – $20

    Click here to learn more…


    MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY
    Sound Series: Dub Corridor 
    PearlArts @ The Warhol

    Thursday, July 13
    8:00pm

    The Andy Warhol Museum, Silver Street | 117 Sandusky Street
    Tickets: $5 – $8

    Click here to learn more…


    FUNDRAISER | COMMUNITY
    House Party
    A Benefit for Kelly Strayhorn Theater

    Saturday, July 22
    7:00pm – 9:00pm VIP Reception
    9:00pm – 12:00am Dance Party

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater | 5941 Penn Ave.
    Pay What Moves You: $50 – $250

    Click here to learn more…

     


    DANCE
    Adult Ballet Club
    with Andrew Blight
    Presented by PearlArts

    Tuesdays, June 6 – 27 &
    July 11 – August 1

    6:00pm – 7:00pm 

    KST’s Alloy Studios | 5530 Penn Ave.
    $10 Suggested Drop In

    Click here to learn more…


    DANCE
    Adult Jazz Heels Club
    with Arnita Thompson

    Wednesdays, June 7 – 28 &
    July 12 – August 2

    7:00pm – 8:00pm

    KST’s Alloy Studios | 5530 Penn Ave.
    $10 Suggested Drop In

    Click here to learn more…


    MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY
    Sound Series: Dub Corridor
    PearlArts @ The Warhol

    Thursday, August 17
    8:00pm

    The Andy Warhol Museum, Silver Street | 117 Sandusky Street
    Tickets: $5 – $8

    Click here to learn more…


    DANCE | MUSIC | PERFORMANCE | COMMUNITY 
    Inside Out Night
    SPdp&SS @ CMoA: Inside out
    Presented by PearlArts

    Saturday, August 19
    7:00pm – 10:00pm

    Carnegie Museum of Art,
    Sculpture Court | 4400 Forbes Ave.
    FREE

    Click here to learn more…


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater is a non-profit community performing arts center in East Liberty, advancing live art through strategic vision and community collaboration with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after its founding, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community. KST’s mission is to be a home for creative experimentation, community dialogue, and collective action rooted in the liberation of Black and queer people. Welcome to The Soul of East Liberty!

    Photo Credit: Beth Barbis, Liz Rudnick, Delaney Greenberg, Heidi Wiren Bartlett

  3. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents: Or Forever Hold Your Peace, from Big Storm Performance Company

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater is pleased to announce Or Forever Hold Your Peace, a 75 minute theater experience from Big Storm Performance Company. Based on the real-life experiences of the creators, this show explores the B plots, uncomfortable interactions, and opportunities for personal discovery that occur at weddings.

    Or Forever Hold Your Peace takes place at a Pennsylvania wedding in the late 2010s, where the sister of the bride is about to snap, the only guest who believes in love is a wedding crasher, the 13-year-old ring bearer has a secret mission, and everyone needs a change. Big Storm co-founder and artistic director José Pérez IV developed the show with co-founder and Team Health Specialist Taylor Couch. Both Couch and Pérez IV have built long standing relationships with Kelly Strayhorn Theater as teachers at The Alloy School. There, Couch teaches Creative Play, a “Parent & Me” style dance class for children six years old and younger, and Pérez IV is teacher emeritus of Capoeira, a dancelike martial art originating in Brazil. As one might expect from two dance teachers, movement and music are key elements in Or Forever Hold Your Peace.

    “I like the phrase ‘musical without singing’ because it describes how significant a role the dances play in this show,” says Couch. “If we called Or Forever ‘a play with dancing,’ it’s easier to imagine maybe one or two dance numbers that mesh into the play instead of the very musical-like spectacle that dance is in this piece.” In an interview with Pittsburgh City Paper’s Tia Bailey, Pérez adds, “You’ve probably not seen a show like this before. It’s very modern, physical, fun… We say ‘theater experience’ because, with a lot of the things we make, it’s not really accurate to just say, ‘It’s a play.’ We don’t feel bound to strictly traditional modes of performance, and that leads us to experiment with where we perform, how we interact with the audience, and the types of performance we combine in one show.”

    It’s by design that Big Storm productions like Or Forever Hold Your Peace defy categorization. The company was created as a response to an industry that often alienates and excludes, and their philosophy focuses on mental health, accessibility, and passing on what the company refers to as “The Groove.” To quote their mission statement, “The Groove is our name for the good feeling you get when you’re jamming to music — that enlivening ‘under your skin’ feeling of rhythm and movement, and we aim to spread it with everything we do. From our mindful rehearsal and performance processes to our aim to create works that connect with as many people as possible, regardless of their previous arts experience, Big Storm brings joy.”

    Join KST and BIG STORM for Or Forever Hold Your Peace on Friday & Saturday, May 19 – 20* and Wednesday – Saturday, May 24 – 27 at 8:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. *Post Performance Discussion to be held on Saturday, May 20. Tickets are Pay What Moves You: $10 – $25.


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    Taylor W Couch (she/her) is an Early Childhood Teaching Artist, Pittsburgh native, and Co-Founding Director of Big Storm Performance Company. When not performing with Big Storm or teaching with organizations such as Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education and The Alloy School, Taylor enjoys working as a stylist for her mental health and sustainability-focused company Style For Good PGH, listening to records, and enjoying the wonderful restaurants around Pittsburgh

    E Forney (she/they) works in higher education administration, organizes with leftists, and dabbles in many other things. When she is not at rehearsal, Forney is recording with her podcast co-hosts for One More Thing, coordinating events for Puzzled Pint, playing video games, or dabbling in some new hobby (right now it’s rug tufting). Forney has worked as support or tech for multiple Big Storm productions (“Quest”, “Portals on Penn”, “Say That to My Face”, “Dance Show: A Dance Show”) and looks forward to more!

    Phillip Fry (he/him) graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 with a BS in Mathematics and a Minor in Theater Performance. When not rehearsing, Phil enjoys playing video games, reading, discovering new breweries in the area, and visiting with his family. His previous works include, Stage: Portals on Penn, Say That to My Face (Big Storm PC); Film: Tributaries (Crazy Pants Productions); Voice Over: No Exit, Cave of the Green Light (Play on Words Podcast). Phil would like to thank his fiancée, mom, dad, brother, and sister for pushing him to keep doing theater and to his cats that keep them company during the down time.

    Yang Zhen Lee (They/Them) is a comics and tattoo artist who likes to dabble in many things. Zhen was in Teresa Martuccio’s Pink Potatoes, and in some City of Play events such as “Emotional Landscapes,” “Intimate Subjects,” and “Fantastic Adventure: Greenfield Bridge.” When not rehearsing, Zhen likes playing games, moving through the world in new ways, petting animals, and seeing what art peeps have been making. Zhen says “Thank you to the fun and warmhearted folks of Big Storm for being absolute sweeties. Thank you Forrest for helping me go through lines many many times.”​

    Jess Malandro (she/her) currently works at the University of Pittsburgh’s Big Idea Center as manager for student programs. When she isn’t working at Pitt, Stick City Brewing Company, or rehearsing with Big Storm, you can find her reading and/or furiously snuggling her two cats (Dae and Bucky). Over the past few years, Jess has performed with Big Storm in productions such as Say That To My Face and Portals on Penn. She would like to thank her fiancé, Phil Fry, for getting her to rehearsals on time and being a major support system over the past couple of months. Lastly, she would like to thank José and Taylor for being so awesome throughout this process (and every other time, really).

    José Pérez IV (he/him) Julio/Dance Core, Dance Captain, Choreography, Playwright – is a fight choreographer and theater maker. Artistic Director of Big Storm Performance Company. MFA in Performance Pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh, BFA in Drama from NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing. When not making new theater, he likes to read in cafes and wave at dogs. José’s original work has been seen in New York City venues, on the hills of the Smoky Mountains, and in a moving car.

    Olivia Devorah Tucker (they/them) is a transfemme Jewish demonologist with an affinity for vibrant theater and baking thematically-shaped challah. Professionally, Olivia serves as Program Coordinator for SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva (founders of Queer Talmud Camp), where they study as a teacher-in-training. Olivia Devorah has variously performed, puppeteered, sang, danced, devised, and dramaturged for FOLKLAB’s QUEER (2018), Moriah Ella Mason’s Queer Jewish: Dancing In Diaspora (2019), Teresa Martuccio’s Pink Potatoes (2019) and Gunner LaBuff’s Hatena, A Guinea Pig Play (2019) at the Glitterbox. Olivia sends thanks to friends, family, the Highland Park pool, and the Phantom of the Attic comic book store for getting them through the tough times!

    Matt Vitullo (he/him) is thrilled to be in yet another Big Storm production! Matt graduated from the University of Pittsburgh for theater and has been performing in the city ever since. Previous roles include Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet (Pittsburgh Classic Players), a tea shop fighter in Portals on Penn (Big Storm), and a lovesick bard in Quest (Big Storm). When not performing, Matt can be found playing Dungeons & Dragons, gaming, reading, writing, or spending time with friends (as safely as possible, of course). “Thank you to Big Storm, especially José and Taylor, for making so much cool art that I get to participate in, and to my incredible friends who always give me support and lend me an ear while I talk about this show endlessly. Thank you!! :^)

    Ariel / (they/them) is an interdisciplinary performance artist dancing onto the scene from underground art spaces in Pittsburgh, New York, Shanghai, the Bay, and Hong Kong. With roots in butoh, martial arts, and street dance, they are thrilled to be performing with Big Storm for their funky and athletic choreography. Notable venues where they have performed and displayed works include SPACE Gallery, The Space Upstairs, GPAC Center, Baryshnikov Dance Center, Alloy Studios, New Hazlett Theatre, and Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. They are concurrently making films as part of the Spring 23′ cohort in the Digital Documentary Filmmaking Fellowship at the Warhol Academy.

    Charlie Left is a nonbinary screenwriter, competing slam poet, and performing artist in Pittsburgh, PA. Their work has appeared in Pretty Owl Poetry, Medium, and elsewhere. They’re in the Pittsburgh Prison Book Project’s leadership group, a volunteer non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh that sends reading and educational materials to prisoners across PA. They formerly curated and emceed The Bantha Readings in Pittsburgh, a series dedicated to showcasing local writers. Their work, best described as creative nonfiction with a surrealist twist, focuses on the role of gender and masculinity in our everyday lives. Find them online @charlie_left or charlieleft074@gmail.com

    Jade Young (they/she) is a trans/non-binary dancer, singer, actor and writer. They have been training in dance since the age of three years old. They are a dancer in the styles of jazz, tap, hip hop techniques, jazz funk and contemporary dance. They graduated in 2021 from Full Sail University with a certificate in Creative Writing. Most recently Jade has done stand-in/photo double work for actress Andra Day in the Lee Daniels directed film “The Deliverance” and acted in City Theatre’s 2022 Young Playwright’s Festival. When Jade isn’t dancing or performing she is studying piano and voice under the amazing Cathie Crocker, plays their Taylor acoustic guitar and enjoys spending time with their family and orange tabby cat Simba. “Thank you to the cast members and team of Big Storm. It’s been an absolute joy working with all of you. Thank you to my Mom, my brother Mason and best friend Rebekah Davis for your love and support”. Follow them on Instagram @jadenjewel13.

    Lucy Jaffar (she/her) is a dancer and arts administrator from San Francisco. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BS in psychology and a BA in dance and has had the opportunity to dance and train with amazing organizations including San Francisco Ballet, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, ODC, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and DancEsteem San Francisco. Lucy can normally be found adventuring in nature, playing guitar, or spending quality time with her family, friends, and two boxer dogs. She would like to thank Dylon for being the best support system to her through everything.

    Sarah Hoy (she/they) is a current student at Point Park University studying Theatre Arts with a minor in musical theatre! They are very excited to be doing their first show with Big Storm Performance Company and have loved the process with this amazing group. Previous works include Coping with COPA (flash dancer), Men On Boats (swing/Mr. Asa), and the RLM One Act Festival. She’d like to thank her friends and family and amazing coworkers for supporting her in all the work! @sarahhoyarts


    ABOUT BIG STORM PERFORMANCE COMPANY 

    By only presenting original works, Big Storm Performance Company creates and performs only what they connect with and makes them feel The Groove through highly physical, movement based pieces. Big Storm loves incorporating safe, responsible moments of interaction as well as pieces that pull from multiple stage combat, dance, and theater disciplines to deepen the experience without jeopardy.
    This desire to provide meaningful, positive experiences stems from Big Storm’s founding drive to create a company that meets performers and audience members where they are. In an industry that often alienates and excludes, Big Storm offers a space where all are welcome, and those who want to participate can. Along with our sustainable processes, Big Storm is a zero judgment, body positive zone that elevates the strengths of each of our performers and knows that movers come in all shapes, sizes, and with all kinds of needs. Rather than force our performers to fit into a mode and model, we embrace the outside lives and struggles of everyone who works with us and reward honest communication with change.


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today, Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.

  4. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents: B Kleymeyer Freshworks Presentation

    i’m not done with this body (and i never will be)

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater is pleased to announce the final Spring 2023 Freshworks performance in process presentation, B Kleymeyer, i am not done with this body (and i never will be). Join us on Friday & Saturday, May 5 – 6, 8:00pm, at KST’s Alloy Studios for a look into this new work in development followed by a Q & A with the artist. Part archive, part resource guide, and part celebration, i’m not done with this body (and i never will be) is a multimedia performance about trans women and the sex hormone estrogen. In a time where access to trans healthcare is becoming ever more politicized, the multidimensional performance uplifts Pittsburgh’s trans community and gives shape and sound to the things trans women have felt and been unable to name: The truth that hormones change more than your appearance, and that the most shocking shift is in your brain. 

    “You start to think differently. Your whole perception of the world around you changes, little by little, until you can’t remember what it was like before.” — B Kleymeyer

    Trans healthcare saves lives. Right now, the red tape, the waitlists, and the lack of accessibility makes transitioning in Pittsburgh without a strong support network a daunting task. i’m not done with this body (and i never will be) shouts the truths that doctors hide from and cis family and friends are afraid of. The work celebrates every part of transition, preserving the collective knowledge and experience of hormones toward collective understanding and, ultimately, protected access to life-giving care. 

    “I think we see transition as this deeply personal, individual experience. And it can be, it can definitely be a time of great inner reflection, growth, and change. But it could also be a time of celebration and community. What if we were to honor transition as another milestone of life?” — B Kleymeyer

    Over the course of her residency, B has reached out to trans women living in Pittsburgh for their stories and experiences. About this communal writing process, B shares, “It’s an incredible experience to have a creative space with other trans women. This project started with a desire to share the stories of trans women in Pittsburgh. And as a result, I’m watching these really beautiful conversations between multiple generations of trans women occur. It’s become really clear to me that trans women have always kept each other safe, informed, and loved. My hope is that this project can be another link in that history.” — B Kleymeyer

    This project was supported in part by funding from the Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund For Art @ the Frontier. Join KST and B Kleymeyer for i’m not done with this body (and i never will be) Friday & Saturday, May 5 – 6 at 8:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You: $10 – $25. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    B Kleymeyer is a white, Jewish, trans woman. She is a current MFA Candidate at Carnegie Mellon University’s John Wells Directing Program. She is a director and generator working at the intersections of theater, dance, multi-media installation, and film. B is a resident artist at Single Carrot Theatre where they facilitate the creation of community-based, site-responsive performances. Upcoming work includes; Kiss Me Mr. Musk (Single Carrot Theatre, August 2022), i’m not done with this body (and i never will be) (Kelly Strayhorn, November 2022), and Adult Things (Carnegie Mellon University, March 2023). B works to create sacred space through the communal witnessing of performative events. Her work is a collective prayer, a model of the world we wish to build, and a place of transformation.


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today, Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.


    ABOUT FRESHWORKS

    Freshworks is KST’s creative residency for artists and collaborators based in the greater Pittsburgh region. Freshworks made its debut in 2013 and supports playful exploration in performance through interdisciplinary work in contemporary dance, theater, music, and multimedia.The program provides artists with planning support and guidance, studio space, production staff, lighting and sound design and encouragement for creative risk taking. Artists are invited to apply either as an individual or as a collaborative group. 

    Freshworks artists are provided a $1,000 honorarium and $1,500 resource budget during the residency. This is to help offset the costs of creating new work. Each residency will take place over a two-month period. During these two months, artists will develop a 30-minute live showing that is a first draft of an original artistic project. The first month is intended for planning; this includes what form the project will take, securing collaborators, and brainstorming design. During this time, artists will meet weekly with KST Programming and Production Staff to chart out production and scheduling needs as well as utilize their outside perspectives. The intention is that KST Staff is present to pose questions that can help the artist think through various aspects of ideas.

    The second month is focused on in-studio rehearsal and creation of a 30-minute draft of their project. Weekly meetings with KST Staff continue and shift focus towards actualizing production needs.The goal of the residency is for the artist to experiment and explore early iterations of ideas and share a draft of these concepts in front of an audience. At the end of the process, they will have valuable insight into further developing their project.

  5. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents: Shamel Pitts | TRIBE

    BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater is pleased to announce the return of 2020 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography Shamel Pitts. Last seen at the newMoves dance festival in 2018, Pitts is back in the burgh with his arts collective TRIBE for a presentation of the artist’s evening-length multidisciplinary performance work BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon on Friday & Saturday, April 14 – 15 at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave. KST will host a week of special events leading up to the performance, including a Welcome Dinner and Artist Talk at KST’s Alloy Studios on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:00pm, a GAGA movement session at KST’s Alloy Studios co-presented by KST mutual-aid partner PearlArts Wednesday, April 12 at 9:00am, and a special post-performance conversation with artist Alisha Wormsely at Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Friday, April 14 (performance to start at 8:00pm).

    In BLACK HOLE, a trio of Black performers (all of African heritage) share the stage in a narrative of unity, vigor, and unrelenting advancement. Their journey originates in the darkness of the titular Black Hole, understood not as a cosmic void but a metaphorical place of transformation and potential. Engulfed in an evocative soundscape of original music, sound samples, and spoken word, the dancers embark on an hour-long, uninterrupted journey in movement in which their tenacity and grace are emphasized by cinematic video projections and stark, monochromatic lights.

    BLACK HOLE (…) is a stylish Afrofuturist vision featuring three Black dancers, in monochromatic light and video projections, finding connection in a movement language derived from Ohad Naharin’s Gaga.” — Brian Seibert, New Yorker

    BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon concludes the Black Trilogy, a series of deeply personal live performance pieces conceived and choreographed by Pitts since 2015. The first work of this collection, a solo BLACK BOX – Little Book of RED, introduced the recurring themes of this cycle: identity, search for the roots and community, and personal evolution of the artist, born “young, gifted and Black.”

    2019 saw the New York premiere of BLACK VELVET – Architectures And Archetypes, “a haunting duet” (The New York Times) with Brazilian-born Mirelle Martins. Collaboration with her and other Black Series artists subsequently spurred the inception of TRIBE, a multidisciplinary collective of international creatives, united by Afrofuturistic ideals and shared goals.

    “I’ve come from dance companies. I’ve loved them. But I had no interest or passion to re-create that. TRIBE is a collective of outliers. I think we relate more to a rock band, where each person has a different skill, a different instrument. We come together when we want to play and when we have ideas. I’m the artistic director, so I’m in a leadership role, but none of my collaborators are followers. We’re all walking with one another.” — Shamel Pitts, TRIBE artistic director

    BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon was developed with the kind support of Trust for Mutual Understanding (TMU), American Dance Abroad, gloATL, PearlArts Studios, CrossAward (Italy), Dock 11 / Eden (Germany), Derida Dance Center (Bulgaria), Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, New York Live Arts, and 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center.

    Additional commissioning, development and core operating support for TRIBE is provided by the Mellon Foundation; The New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; The Howard Gilman Foundation; Dance/NYC’s Dance Advancement Fund, made possible by the Howard Gilman Foundation and Ford Foundation; National Performance Network (NPN) Creation, Development & Artist Engagement Fund Project supported by the Doris Duke

    Charitable Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency); and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

    KST’s engagement of Shamel Pitts BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon is made possible through the ArtsCONNECT program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the National Performance Network (NPN) Artist Engagement Fund. More information: www.npnweb.org.

    Join KST and Shamel Pitts | TRIBE for BLACK HOLE: Trilogy And Triathlon on Friday & Saturday, April 14 – 15 at 8:00pm at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You: $15 – $35. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    2020 Guggenheim Fellow Shamel Pitts is a performance artist, choreographer, conceptual artist, dancer, spoken word artist, and teacher. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Shamel began his dance training at LaGuardia High School for Music & Art and the Performing Arts and, simultaneously, at The Ailey School. He is 2003 YoungArts Finalist and a first prize winner of the YoungArts competition. Shamel then went on to receive his BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was awarded the Martha Hill Award for excellence in dance. He began his dance career in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Hell’s Kitchen Dance and BJM_Danse Montreal. Shamel danced with Batsheva Dance Company for 7 years, under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin and is a certified teacher of Gaga movement language. He is an adjunct professor at The Juilliard School and has been an artist in residence at Harvard University. He is the recipient of a 2018 Princess Grace Award in Choreography, a 2019 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Award winner in Choreography, a 2020 Jacob’s Pillow artist in residence and a 2021 New York Dance Award winner (The Bessies). Shamel is the Founding Artistic Director of TRIBE, a Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary arts collective. TRIBE is a 92Y Harkness Dance Center’s Artist In Residence for the 2020-2021 season. Shamel Pitts | TRIBE is also a New York Live Arts Live Feed artist in residence.

    Tushrik Fredricks (Performer) recipient of Princess Grace Award (Chris Helman dance honor), nominated by TRIBE in 2021 is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa. Growing up he found himself drawn towards the style ‘KRUMP‘. He graduated from the Peridance Certificate Program in NYC in June 2015 and has had the opportunity to work with Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY (Danielle Agami, Artistic Director), Sidra Bell Dance New York and UNA Productions. Tushrik was an assistant lecturer to Sidra Bell at The University of the Arts Philadelphia for Sophomore students (2016-2018). In May 2021 Tushrik received 3rd prize for dance at the SoloTanz Festival in Stuttgart for his self choreographed solo ‘(territory) of the heart’ and in November 2022 it will be presented at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. instagram.com/tushrik 

    Marcella Lewis (Performer), recipient of the 2018 Princess Grace Award in Dance, hails from Los Angeles, CA, where she began her dance training at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre. She then continued her studies at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts(LACHSA). She later received her BFA from the Purchase Conservatory of Dance in 2016, where she was awarded the Adopt-A-Dancer Scholarship. She joined Abraham.In.Motion in fall 2016, as a dancer, soloist, and company liaison. Marcella was featured with Abraham.In.Motion in Dance Magazine in August 2017 and was mentioned in the New York Times for the Abraham.In.Motion Joyce season in May 2018. Marcella is currently a performer with TRIBE multidisciplinary visual performances and is a freelance artist exploring choreography  in Los Angeles and New York. instagram.com/marcellalewis_

    Lucca Del Carlo (Video Lighting Designer) is a graphic designer and video artist from São Paulo, Brazil, currently based in LA/NYC. Lucca is a founding member of the Brooklyn/New York based multidisciplinary arts collective known as TRIBE. He has created the lighting and video mapping projections for numerous performance works and has toured and performed live with the collective in many countries all over the world. He specializes in transmedia, mixing cinema techniques, concepts of architecture, visual arts, light design, and technology, and integrating those into the direction and creation of scenography, immersive environments and visual live shows. In his view, all ways of visual communication have interlacing points, not only using technology but also using human cognition and its related censorial illusions. Del Carlo’s specialty is mixing it in new ways to inspire and break common patterns in visual expression. luccadelcarlo.com 

    Sivan Jacobovitz (Composer) is a producer/musician living in NYC. Dance collaborations include: Kimberly Bartosik’s “I Hunger For You” (BAM Next Wave) and “Through The Mirror of Their Eyes” (NYLA – Bessie Outstanding Production Honoree); Shamel Pitts’ Black Hole (touring internationally), MENAGERIE (with Gibney Company) and Touch of RED (upcoming – Jacob’sPillow Lab); ASSEMBLY with GREYZONE. instagram.com/sivan_daniel

     

     

    An Australian artist with a career continuing over 30years, Rus Snelling (Artistic Production Manager & Lighting Designer) has worked as a production, stage, site and tour manager, lighting and set designer, consultant, technical director and fire sculptor with arts organizations, institutions & freelancing on events and installations around the world ranging from intimate theatrical works, shows on and off Broadway in NYC and on London’s West End. His work includes large scale indoor and outdoor festivals, the Sydney Olympic Ceremonies, the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Ceremonies & Cultural Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Montreal Just for Laughs, Edinburgh Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Vancouver Winter Olympics Cultural Festival, Centennial celebrations, river & street parades, tours & various music festivals. Some artists Rus has worked with are Merce Cunningham, Laurie Anderson, John Leguizamo, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, Tim Robbins & The Actors Gang, Taylor Mac, Patti Smith, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Bandaloop, Camille A Brown & Dancers, Abraham.In.Motion, Streb & Phantom Limb Company among many and on projects & tours in Australia, USA, Canada, Tunisia, Europe, Asia & South America. Rus worked at PS122 in NYC many moons ago and was the founding Production Manager & Resident Lighting Designer at Oz Arts Inc in Nashville TN for 6 years before moving to Miami to continue freelance work and is proudly working on the tour of And So We Walked featuring DeLanna Studi and is excited and honored to be part of the creation of Touch of Red with TRIBE.

    Originally from Brazil, Mirelle Martins (Costume Designer, Creative Director) received her Bachelor Degree in Social Communications (UnB 2002-06). She has worked as an artist, independent curator and art producer since 2010. In 2013, Mirelle started to research her own artistic expression in performance art with the intensive summer course of Gaga.people.dancers in NYC. Since 2015, she has been producing Gaga courses yearly in Brazil, so far reaching over 1200 students. In 2016, as a 32-year old, Mirelle made her dancing debut in “BLACK VELVET”, a duet by Shamel Pitts, with light designer Lucca Del Carlo. The show toured in the US and internationally from 2017 to 2020, and has received the Audience Choice Award in Stockholm Fringe Festival (Sweden, 2017), and Best out of Town Production by ArtsATL (Atlanta, 2018). The partnership with Pitts continued with “BLACK HOLE” (2018), where Mirelle has collaborated as performer and costume designer. Since 2019, Mirelle is one of the founding artists of TRIBE, Brooklyn-based arts collective led by Pitts, where she also acts as Creative Director. mirellemartins.com  

    Naomi Maaravi (Black Tarp Designer) is a Dutch-born, Israel-based EcoFashion Designer with over 30 years of experience creating upcycled re-designed fashion pieces. Naomi made her first piece for her daughter out of worn out jeans. Her garments are fashioned from either her own collection of high end materials, or out of materials supplied by her clients. Her brand line has since evolved into a high-end recycled – albeit high fashion – line worn by Israeli artists and celebrities. “Memories, events, joy, happiness, sadness are all parts of the materials I use, blended to create a unique garment with a story on its own,” Maaravi says. www.naomimaaravi.com

    Itai Zwecker (Photographer, Cinematographer) is an Israeli-born director of cinematography, photographer, and video editor, collaborating with Shamel Pitts and later TRIBE since 2018. His photography has been featured in The New York Times ,The Brooklyn Rail, and other outlets. Zwecker is based in Brooklyn and Tel Aviv, where he works shooting film, dance, music, documentary and commercial projects. vimeo.com/zwecker 

     

     

    PALETTE, Founded by The Adeboye Brothers (Photographer & Cinematographer) in 2017, is a creative agency focused on producing films, animations, and live experiences for campaign activations both online and offline. Their background is rooted in thoughtful storytelling, art, and pushing the boundaries within the film space. They’re currently focused on building out their Production house internationally. Their production house develops, produces and writes branded and original documentaries, narrative-based shorts, and animations. This organization stands with creatives, the humans connected to culture, the community-movers, the society shapers. https://www.thepalettegroup.com/


    ABOUT TRIBE 

    TRIBE – Multidisciplinary Visual Performances is a Brooklyn-based Afrofuturistic arts collective dedicated to creating, producing and sharing original multidisciplinary global art projects founded in December 2019 by choreographer and performer Shamel Pitts. Understanding that performance art and live art are practices of human connection, TRIBE acts nationally and internationally by developing art exchanges in collaboration with institutions and artists, with a focus on the African diaspora.

    TRIBE’s mission is to seize space and create a platform for artists – most specifically artists of color – with huge inspiration from the Afrofuturism movement. This movement states that we have a responsibility through our work to tell new stories and create a brighter future that is different, and shines more luminously, from its past. Ultimately, TRIBE aims to bring its audience and community into experiences that humanize Black and Brown bodies and share the colorfulness within Blackness that allows us to be multiplicitous. Itsatribe.org


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today, Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.
    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.

  6. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents: Spring 2023 Freshworks performance in process presentation, Nick M. Daniels


    Nonsensical search for truth and understanding 

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater is pleased to announce the first Spring 2023 Freshworks performance in process presentation, Nick M. Daniels, Nonsensical search for truth and understanding. Join us on Friday & Saturday, April 7 – 8, 8:00pm, at KST’s Alloy Studios for a taste of this new work in development followed by a Q & A with the artist.

    Nonsensical search for truth and understanding is a movement-based performance that explores how technology has grown, developed, and changed global communication. Choreographer Nick M. Daniels will draw the audience into an oddly beautiful and melancholic atmosphere by pairing digital/electronic noise and piano with stylized phrases inspired by global movement styles such as Butoh, Ballroom, Hip Hop, and traditional African and Indian dance. Photography and projections round out the piece, creating a multidisciplinary heartbeat for this work from D.A.N.A. Movement Ensemble.

    Nick M. Daniels is a movement based performance artist and choreographer born, raised, and based in Pittsburgh who draws from a vast network of influences. Their drive to create art through movement can be traced back to their childhood, when their mother supported their creative spirit, even at her own risk:

    “As a child I was always just a little different. I would watch figure-skating, (my mother was an avid figure-skating person, she loved it) and I would try to do those moves, and jumps — our ceiling could have come down quite a few times because you had this little diva doing triple sow-cows above your head in their bedroom. I used to spray pledge on the floors! It made them really, really slick, and one morning, getting ready for church, my mother had her church shoes on, hit the pledge on the floor and fell. After that she said, ‘OK, we need to get you into skating, into dance!’”— Nick M. Daniels

    Daniels, a Freshworks alum (‘17) has built a practice that balances the horrendous with the sublime. Informed creatively by their identity as a Black, gay, and non-binary person, Daniels makes work that confronts the world as it is while leaving space to imagine different, more beautiful realities.

    “For this residency, there were a couple of images I really needed to see, to get back into my head. This past weekend I traveled to DC to the Museum of African American History, to sit with Emmett Till. A lot of my imagery comes from things that are absolutely horrible, but I try to make it a compassionate effort, because beautiful things come from horrible things. I try to avoid hitting really strong triggers with my audiences, but I do need to push buttons to some extent.” — Nick M. Daniels

    Because their practice synthesizes language from so many different sources, the result can be  free-wheeling, abstract, and untethered to the narrative arcs that audiences are used to. Daniels is unconcerned with the legibility of their work. Rather, they hope audiences will connect with the authentic essence of Nonsensical search for truth and understanding.

    “My work is what comes out of my mind, it’s what comes out of my heart and what comes out of my soul. My friends and colleagues recognize that. You can call my work unrefined, you can call it non-traditional dance, you can call it performance art, but the one thing you’re definitely going to say is that it is of me — it’s honest, it’s raw, it’s emotional, and it’s a little gay, and very Black. I tell my story the way I feel it should be told. It’s a reflection of finding myself, finding my energy, and finding my Black Boy Joy after being in the pandemic. The uncertainty of that, and the ugly thoughts, things that were being said about queer, transgender Blacks, people of color, all that hatefulness — I want to package that and dance around it. I need to find myself again.” — Nick M. Daniels

    Join KST and Nick M. Daniels for Nonsensical search for truth and understanding Friday & Saturday, April 7 – 8 at 8:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You: $10 – $25. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Nick M. Daniels is the founding Artistic Director of D.A.N.A. (Dancers Against Normal Actions) Movement Ensemble whose choreographic style is inspired by African dance and many modern and contemporary global movement styles. After attaining his BFA in Dance from Slippery Rock University in 1991, Nick created D.A.N.A Movement Ensemble and was a pioneering force in Pittsburgh for the exploration of race and sexual identity in performance art. Nick’s creative work often uses self-realized soundscapes and video imagery based in pure, raw emotion. Throughout his career he has toured nationally and abroad, receiving grants and accolades including The Young- Howse Theater Award for Movement Artist of the Year, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Preserving Diverse Cultures Grant, and a 2017 Freshworks Residency with Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Currently, Nick is developing work that will premiere in Europe, Central America, and South America in 2023.


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today, Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.
    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.


    ABOUT FRESHWORKS 

    Freshworks is KST’s creative residency for artists and collaborators based in the greater Pittsburgh region. Freshworks made its debut in 2013 and supports playful exploration in performance through interdisciplinary work in contemporary dance, theater, music, and multimedia.The program provides artists with planning support and guidance, studio space, production staff, lighting and sound design and encouragement for creative risk taking. Artists are invited to apply either as an individual or as a collaborative group.

    Freshworks artists are provided a $1,000 honorarium and $1,500 resource budget during the residency. This is to help offset the costs of creating new work. Each residency will take place over a two-month period. During these two months, artists will develop a 30-minute live showing that is a first draft of an original artistic project. The first month is intended for planning; this includes what form the project will take, securing collaborators, and brainstorming design. During this time, artists will meet weekly with KST Programming and Production Staff to chart out production and scheduling needs as well as utilize their outside perspectives. The intention is that KST Staff is present to pose questions that can help the artist think through various aspects of ideas.

    The second month is focused on in-studio rehearsal and creation of a 30-minute draft of their project. Weekly meetings with KST Staff continue and shift focus towards actualizing production needs.The goal of the residency is for the artist to experiment and explore early iterations of ideas and share a draft of these concepts in front of an audience. At the end of the process, they will have valuable insight into further developing their project.

  7. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kelly Strayhorn Theater Presents: Sunstar Festival: Women & Music

    2023 Artists Announced:
    Toshi Reagon, Lola Cole, DJ FEMI, Diarra Imani, & Casaundra
    Curated in Partnership with The SCALE Fellowship Program

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater and The SCALE Fellowship Program (a project of the Equity | Impact Center) are thrilled to announce the spring lineup for the 2023 Sunstar Festival: Women & Music. On March 18, 2023 at 8:00pm, KST will host performances from Toshi Reagon, Lola Cole, DJ FEMI, and Casaundra with host Diarra Imani. The women represent a broad spectrum of musical genres and influences, illustrating the multivalent talent of Black Women in the local scene and beyond. 

    Since its 2009 inception, KST’s annual Sunstar Festival: Women & Music has celebrated the power and creativity of Black women by creating a platform for local performers to share the stage with national acts in a neighborhood theater setting. Dedicated to creating a dialogue between emerging and established artists, Sunstar showcases a variety of performers including dancers, spoken word poets, musicians, singer/songwriters, and more. Past programs have featured Grammy Award-winning group the Carolina Chocolate Drops, author Rebecca Walker, New York composer Samita Sinha, visual/spoken word artist Vanessa German, Pittsburgh artists and leaders: Tania Grubbs, Staycee Pearl, Anqwenique Wingfield, Girls Running Sh**, INEZ, Clara Kent, Brittney Chantele, Chandra Rhyme, Geña y Peña, Dejah Monea, Najj Andrea, ICY PISCES, Nairobi, Chantal Braziel, Candace Burgess, Jenifer Rose Weber, and many more.

    This year’s festival is co-curated by the SCALE Fellowship Program, whose mission is to promote the advancement of Black Women in music. A project of the Equity | Impact Center, SCALE was designed by Leigh Solomon Pugliano with the intent of developing a comprehensive, collaborative program that provides both immediate and ongoing support to artists along with concrete opportunities for growth and advancement. The SCALE Fellowship Program aims to “create an affirmative space for Black women in music to connect, share, learn, and grow. SCALE provides financial support, a platform to produce and present work, entrepreneurial skill-building, and resources to Black women in music while affecting the development of an equity-centered, inclusive, and elevating ecosystem for emerging artists.” —Leigh Solomon Pugliano

    Audiences will be able to witness the fruits of their collaboration as the program culminates in two events at Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Saturday, March 18. Before the performers take the stage at 8:00pm, KST hosts an artist discussion and lunch at 1:00pm in the KST lobby. Moderated by SCALE Fellowship founder Leigh Solomon Pugliano, this roundtable discussion invites artists and audience members alike to share their experiences navigating the music industry in order to reveal new opportunities and create networks of support. Then, at 8:00pm, the women of Sunstar 2023 will bring the audience on a journey across the genres of Mississippi Blues, Atlanta Soul, folk, funk, jazz, rock, R&B, and more.

    Toshi Reagon is presented in partnership with Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse. On March 30 – April 2, 2023 the Playhouse presents Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon. Tickets on sale now at playhouse.pointpark.edu

    Join KST and the artists for Sunstar Festival: Women & Music on Saturday, March 18 at 1:00pm and 8:00pm at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You, $25 – $40. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS AND CURATOR

    Toshi Reagon (Singer, Composer, Musician, Curator, Producer) is an award-winning multi-talented and versatile singer, composer, musician, with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock. While her expansive career has landed her at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House and Madison Square Garden, you can just as easily find Toshi turning out at a music festival, intimate venue or local club. Inspired by the visionary and prescient story telling of Octavia E. Butler, Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon created the opera Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, which premiered in 2017 at NYUAD Arts Center in Abu Dhabi and to date, has been performed on four continents.The opera will be presented at Pittsburgh Playhouse March 30 – April 2, 2023. Toshi resides in Brooklyn NY. From there she continues to tour as a solo artist and with her band Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely.

    Based in Studio City, CA, Lola Cole combines her Mississippi Blues roots with her Native Atlanta Soul to give voice to God and Freedom. She has been considered a hybrid artist; singing and writing with a conscious/activist mindset from a spiritual viewpoint. With a deep appreciation for jazz and the history of music culture, Lola calls her sound cultural art. It is a blend of her ingenious, black, southern, music roots. Lola recently captivated audiences at Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Pride Festival, SXSW 2016 for the ChooseATL Takeover and returned to the stage at SXSW 2018. From sharing stages with artists like Prisca, LeCrae, Khari Simmons, The Shadowboxers, Cleveland P. Jones, All Cows Eat Grass, and more.

    Born and raised on the East Side of Pittsburgh, DJ FEMI strives to be a beacon of light in the night life and a prime example that women can be great DJs, business women, and entrepreneurs. In recent years, FEMI has been set up with some amazing opportunities, like performing with the legendary Sheila E. at Stage AE and opening up for Pi’erre Bourne at The Roxian Theatre. Some of her favorite moments also include, but aren’t limited to, djing for Chandra Rhyme (2021 SCALE Fellow) at Stage AE for the big scale showcase, in Las Vegas for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight and some private events in Washington, D.C. where she opened up for Shoreline Mafia, UNIIQU3, Rico Nasty and Dai Burger, as well as many more artists.

    Casaundra is a singer, songwriter and composer from Pittsburgh, PA. She attended high school at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) magnet school, where she currently works. She continued her musical studies at HBCU Norfolk State University, focusing on Music Media with an emphasis on Vocal Performance. Casaundra likes to call her music “Motivation Music,” as it is very intentional in its goal and describes her sound as more R&B/Soul. She believes this style is more relatable and speaks to issues of self-care, awareness and healing. Casaundra has performed at the Oaks Theater with the likes of Etta Cox for “Ladies of Jazz” in 2018. She has also shared the stage with phenomenal Pittsburgh singers, Anita Levels (2023 SCALE Fellow) and Tereasa Hawthorne, for the “Pittsburgh’s Divine Divas” event. Casaundra currently has two albums out, “What Kind of Love” (2010) and “Love Lessons” (2015). Her short-term goals include putting out singles and curating music-related events for Pittsburgh’s immediate neighborhoods and surrounding communities.

    Diarra Imani is a Pittsburgh-based artist that is dedicated to truth-telling in her work. Whether it be through song, poetry, or painting, Diarra’s work is centered around her story of becoming and the truths of the journey. Diarra finds that a lot of music and entertainment centers on a false life. She believes her role as an artist is to tell the truth to her listeners, to her comrades, and to the folks who are witnessing her without her knowing. Diarra’s artistry is multidimensional. She uses paint to illuminate a vision, poetry to evoke feeling, and song to reflect and create moments in time. Diarra realized how much she loved bringing music to people in masses around 15 years old, when she played Solomon Steel Pans during the Christmas parade of 2012 for the Urban Pathways Steelpan band. Diarra has since been granted travel to Ghana with the Teaching Artist Institute and performed during the Ghana Music Awards.

    Leigh Solomon Pugliano (President & CEO, Equity Impact Center)  is an entrepreneur, educator, and experienced strategist who has helped to scale established businesses, creative small businesses, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. Leigh provides organizational development support through consulting, strategic planning, and the development and implementation of initiatives specifically designed for organizations to increase their impact and move toward sustainability.

    For over a decade, Leigh served as Principal Consultant at Straightforward Consulting, a firm she founded in 2011. Leigh is also the Founder and Director of Barrels to Beethoven, and Co-Founder of Limelight Creative. Leigh has received several awards and recognition for her work, including Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40, Women in Business, The World Affairs Council Illuminate Award, and the YWCA Equity Award for Bridge Builder. In her newest role as CEO of the Equity | Impact Center, Leigh intends to advance the work of social justice organizations and drive equitable systems change throughout the U.S. with a specific focus on the Pittsburgh region. Leigh is originally from Guyana, South America, and currently lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and three daughters. 


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today,  Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.


    ABOUT THE SCALE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

    The SCALE Fellowship Program provides individualized artist development, entrepreneurial skill-building curriculum, and intentional opportunities for Black women in music to connect, share, learn, grow, and collaborate. Each cohort accepts up to 8 participants for the 8-month residency program and provides Fellows with a financial award for acceptance into the program along with additional funds for: equipment, technology, business development, recording, branding, and legal support. SCALE supports Black women in music who are artist entrepreneurs in designing their business structures by facilitating the space to create work and perfect their craft. The program provides resources (knowledge, network, financial, space) as well as structural and the strategic support needed to develop a sustainable career path and overcome the challenges that exist for Black artists in Pittsburgh and the nation.

    The SCALE Fellowship Program is a project of the Equity | Impact Center in collaboration with Limelight Creative and support from the Hillman Foundation and Advancing Black Arts, a program of Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation.

  8. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Kelly Strayhorn Theater Presents: Dorothy R. Santos & Adrian Jones

    Docu-Poetics and Creative (Flash) Non-Fiction Writing
    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater and The Frank Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry bring together Dorothy R. Santos and Adrian Jones for a collaborative writing workshop at KST’s Alloy Studios on Saturday, March 11 from 3:00pm – 7:00pm. The workshop combines Santos’ expertise as a writer, artist and educator with Jones’ practice of combining art, history, and technology, and explores the process of writing creative non-fiction from the perspective of the documentarian and archivist. Participants will enjoy a hot meal, and are welcome to bring laptops, tablets or other digital devices to use in the workshop (laptops are not necessary for participation). 

    What is creative nonfiction? The literary genre is an umbrella term for many different forms of writing that includes memoir, biography, narrative history, documentary, and personal essay. According to Creative Nonfiction Magazine, a literary journal dedicated to the form, “Writers who write creative nonfiction are very different in voice, orientation and purpose. But what they have in common is that they are, in one way or the other, writing true stories that provide information about a variety of subjects, enriched by relevant thoughtful ideas, personal insight, and intimacies about life and the world we live in. And this scope and variety is exactly what makes creative nonfiction significant and, these days, so incredibly popular.” — Creative Nonfiction Magazine

    Jones and Santos operate within the writing subcategories of flash creative nonfiction and docu-poetics. Flash creative nonfiction prioritizes brevity, with works often coming in at under 750 words, which focus on a singular image or event. Meanwhile, documentary poems combine primary source material with poetry writing, and can be inspired by news articles, letters, photographs, dairies, court transcripts, medical records, and a variety of other public records. The four-hour event at KST’s Alloy Studios on March 11 will explore a way of writing that honors oral traditions through both poetry and experimental language. Jones and Santos will work through various approaches to recording, documenting, and archiving stories for workshop participants interested in contributing to a community-centered archive. A hot meal will be provided to fuel the discussion!

    Adrian Jones’ creative work, scholarship, and writing are based on historical and archival research focused on Black life in East Liberty. As the creator and founder of Looking Glass, a digital archive, his work is at the intersection of documentary media, archives, and digital technologies. Through his use of augmented reality, mapping, and web-based softwares, Jones is committed to community-facing and participatory practices as a way of uplifting and revealing stories of the East Liberty community.

    There is a pattern that has played out in this city over decades where ideas of renewal and revitalization are offered up as a pretext for projects that ultimately displace Black families, businesses and cultural institutions. It was important that Looking Glass begin with a focus on East Liberty’s history because this kind of disruption has yet to end in this neighborhood.

    The enduring risk to homes and sites of memory calls for engaging in the work of recording and gathering stories. I believe there is power, healing and guidance to be found when we connect to the past. I hope Looking Glass as an archive that also maps stories to their points of origin will be a resource that facilitates this connection and reaffirms that the story of East Liberty cannot be rewritten.” — Adrian Jones

    Dorothy R. Santos’ artistic practice, academic research, and writing focus on voice recognition, speech technologies, and assistive tech. Her fascination with oral history traditions coalesce with her desire to create new media works focused on upending the dominant linguistic forces that oftentimes aim to erase languages and accents outside the lingua franca of American and British englishes. She uses the practice of documentary poetry also known as docu-poetics as a modality for storytelling. Her work aims to shed light on the Filipino immigrant experience and being a child of the diaspora.

    Together, Jones and Santos’ docu-poetics workshop is meant to work specifically with the East Liberty community to contribute to Looking Glass and to gain a broader, deeper, and expansive understanding of writing creative non-fiction. Santos’ collaboration with Jones was made possible through The Frank Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and Kelly Strayhorn Theater with the hope of bridging and building connections between community members interested in sharing stories and new ways of crafting narratives. Dorothy R. Santos is an artist in residence at the STUDIO, and will begin their residency with a lecture on Thursday, March 2 at 5:30pm on the Carnegie Mellon Campus. It’s a great way for folks interested in the workshop to learn more about Dorothy R. Santos’ practice. Then, on March 7th, Santos will visit Duolingo as an invited scholar and deliver a lecture to the Duolingo cohort. They will remain in residence at the STUDIO through March 17th.

    This workshop is made possible in part by Duolingo. Join KST and the artists on Saturday, March 11 at 3:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You, $0 – $25. For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

    Access the pdf HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    Dorothy R. Santos is a Ph.D. candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She received her Master’s degree in Visual and CriticalStudies at the California College of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her work has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Rewire Festival, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society. Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Slate, and Vice Motherboard. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation. In 2022, she received the mozilla Creative Media Award for her interactive, docu-poetics work The Cyborg’s Prosody (2022). She serves as an advisory board member for POWRPLNT, slash arts, and House of Alegria.

    Adrian Jones is a Pittsburgh-based artist, historian, community organizer, and creative technologist. His practice is shaped by a commitment to those living in society’s margins. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Harvard University, his work in software development led him towards exploring the power of speculative imagination and intergenerational storytelling within digital spaces. Currently he is developing Looking Glass, an app-based archive of Black life in Pittsburgh. In January 2023, he was named Logic School’s inaugural Community Technologist.

     


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today,  Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.


    ABOUT THE FRANK RATCHYE STUDIO FOR CREATIVE INQUIRY

    The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University is a laboratory for atypical, transdisciplinary, and inter-institutional research at the intersections of arts, science, technology and culture. Founded in 1989 within the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the STUDIO serves as a locus for hybrid enterprises on the CMU campus, the Pittsburgh region, and internationally. As a venue, a classroom, a laboratory and a commons the STUDIO boasts more than three decades of experience hosting interdisciplinary artists in an environment enriched by world-class science and engineering departments.

    The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry is a flexible laboratory for new modes of arts research, production and presentation. Through its research, residency and public programming, the STUDIO provides opportunities for learning, dialogue and production that lead to innovative breakthroughs, new policies, and the redefinition of the role of artists in a quickly changing world. The STUDIO’s general operating hours are 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday with extended open hours until 10 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays while STUDIO monitors are on duty. The STUDIO is closed T/Th from 1:30 pm until 4:15 pm due to course instruction in the space, as well as 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm on Mondays for staff meetings.

  9. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents Dwayne Fulton with Anita Levels

    R.E.S.P.E.C.T. An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert 

    EAST LIBERTY, PAKelly Strayhorn Theater brings together multi-faceted performer Dwayne Fulton and iconic vocalist Anita Levels for R.E.S.P.E.C.T., An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert on Saturday, February 11th at 8:00pm. One year ago, Fulton and his team of Pittsburgh musicians rocked the foundations of KST and heated up the Valentine’s Day weekend with their Prince tribute, When Doves Cry. This year, the performance will honor the Queen of Soul, Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, and the first woman to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Aretha Franklin.

    Franklin’s name is synonymous with virtuosity, vocal power, and musical genius. The artist, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1942 and died in Detroit in 2018, began her prodigious musical career as a child singing in her Father’s Baptist Ministry. By the time of her passing, Franklin had amassed 112 charted singles on the US Billboard charts and 18 Grammy awards out of a staggering 44 nominations. Audience members of R.E.S.P.E.C.T., An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert can expect to hear many of Franklin’s most well-known hits, including Think, Chain of Fools, Son of a Preacher Man, I Say A Little Prayer For You, Natural Woman, Rock Steady, and of course, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

    Dwayne Fulton is a native of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and three decades of musical and theatrical performances under his belt. He has composed multiple operas, accompanied greats such as Sean Jones, and has won numerous awards for his work. Like Franklin, Fulton’s musical career is informed by the Gospel tradition and underpinned by acts of service to his community — from counseling troubled youth and families to working with academic institutions such as The University of Pittsburgh and St. Vincent College. Fulton mentors young musicians, songwriters, and actors in the Pittsburgh area. Notably, since 2002 Fulton has served as the Minister of Music/Director of Fine Arts at Mount Ararat Baptist Church, the largest church in the Pittsburgh area and western Pennsylvania serving over 8,000 members. To quote Fulton, “The world is longing for music and creative arts that speaks to the total man; body, soul, and spirit.”

    R.E.S.P.E.C.T. An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert brings together some of Pittsburgh’s finest musicians. The ten-piece ensemble includes featured vocalist Anita Levels, whose vocal renown is well-known in Pittsburgh and beyond. The group also features  keyboardist Chuck Anderson, guitarist Gary Howard, bassist John Hall, saxophonist Lou Harris, and drummer Alex Hines, along with supporting vocalists Krystyn Kirkland, Keesha Sheffey, and Timothy Woodruff.

    Prior to the concert, be sure to come by the KST lobby beginning at 6:00pm for the opening of the newest exhibition in the BOOM Gallery, Neighbor to Neighbor. Curated by DS Kinsel, the show features the work of Takara Canty, Sophia Fang, atiya jones, Maggie Negrete, Jameelah Platt, and Danielle Robinson, who have created a beautiful community landscape by bringing together works that visualize ideas around active neighboring. The works are inspired by the KST space, the institution, the building, the neighborhood, the city of Pittsburgh, and the neighbors all around us. Bringing together a diverse range of visual strategies, Neighbor to Neighbor includes text, collage, portrait, dynamic pattern, and abstract mapping styles.

    Join KST and the artists on a rock-and-roll journey down the road of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits on Saturday, February 11 at 8:00PM at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave. Tickets are Pay What Moves You, $25 – $40 (All tickets general admission). For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org.

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    With over 30 years of Theatre and Musical Performance, Dwayne Fulton fully understands the power and influence of music and the arts. He is the founder and Chief Executive of Kingdom People Productions, inc. (‘99) and The SouLyfe Cafe (‘03). Dwayne Fulton is a native of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors degree in Sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. Notably, since 2002 Fulton has served as the Minister of Music/Director of Fine Arts at Mount Ararat Baptist Church. Dwayne is an accomplished pianist whose musical career spans decades. Fulton has had the honor of accompanying such great musicians as Grover Washington, Jr., Roger Humphries, Sean Jones, and Nathan Davis. He has shared the stage greats such as: Keith Sweat, Guy, Fred Hammond, Bobby Jones, Kirk Franklin, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Michael Buble’. In 2011, he was hired as the Musical Director for the Opera Gospel at Colonus with the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh; and in 2012 he composed his first opera short for the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh’s Summer Festival, Bridal Suite. In 2013, he composed his second opera short The Mayoral Suite also for the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh. In 2017, Fulton composed his first full length Opera with the Pittsburgh Festival Opera Theatre, A Gathering of Sons. This production was met with such success that it was filmed and shown nationally on PBS four times in 2018. This production also won a Bronze medal in the 2019 New York Festivals and International TV & Film Awards presented at the NAB show in Las Vegas, NV. In December of 2018, Dwayne composed his second full length Opera with the Trilogy Opera Company of Newark, NJ. Titled Scott, Garner, Gray, says Jimmy Baldwin, the opera was performed to a full house at the beautiful NJPAC Theatre in New Jersey. Fulton recently completed composing scene and background music for a production in Pittsburgh called Savior Samuel with the Pittsburgh Playwright Company.

    Anita Levels is a vocal artist, voice influencer, songwriter and producer who began singing at the age of 3 years old in Frankfurt, West Germany. Texas-born, being a preacher’s kid, and a member of a musical family from New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A, singing and performance are in her blood. Anita’s powerhouse, soulful, but lark-like vocals have graced national and international audiences. She has performed in London, England, has toured the country of Holland with world renowned ethnomusicologist, Dr. Portia Maultsby,  was featured in the NFL’s Super Bowl 50 commemorative commercial, has appeared in the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, and has performed in many, many other private, public and virtual events. Ms. Levels has a plethora of original music on all streaming music platforms and enjoys sharing the history and influence of Black American music on world and American culture. Anita Levels, MS, has a Masters Degree in Training and Development from Carlow University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) and believes that instrumentation and the voice have the innate ability to vibrate truth, healing and thought. Anita’s more recent venture is, Corn and Potatoes Are Good For You, a podcast exploring the soul’s journey through all things spiritual and sensual. She will always be the Mother of two magical daughters, put clorox in her water, powder her sheets, season her vittles, sing, laugh and cultivate spaces for communication and thought.

    For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org. 


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today,  Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter. Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.

  10. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: KST Presents: Neighbor to Neighbor

    EAST LIBERTY, PA — Kelly Strayhorn Theater presents Neighbor to Neighbor, a visual art exhibition held in the historic KST lobby from Saturday, February 11 through Saturday, May 27, 2023. The opening will be held on Saturday, February 11 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Presented in collaboration with BOOM Concepts, Neighbor to Neighbor challenges viewers to consider the possibilities around equitable, active neighboring. The participating artists, Takara Canty, Sophia Fang, atiya jones, Maggie Negrete, Jameelah Platt, and Danielle Robinson, have created a beautiful community landscape by bringing together works that visualize ideas around active neighboring. The works are inspired by the KST space, the institution, the building, the neighborhood, the city of Pittsburgh, and the neighbors all around us. Bringing together a diverse range of visual strategies, Neighbor to Neighbor includes text, collage, portrait, dynamic pattern, and abstract mapping styles.  

    Neighbor to Neighbor considers the fact that all people are neighbors in the sense that everyone exists and grows nearby, adjacent, and close to each other — ideally thriving in the world together. It is impossible not to engage in the identity or act of the neighbor if you are existing here, now, in this world. In another, more literal and localized sense, “neighbors” are the participants in the ecosystem that is the neighborhood. The goal of a neighborhood (to reach a positive and healthy state) relies on the collective ability and intention of each person within it — the health of the neighborhood is a reflection of each neighbor’s ability to empathize with, engage, and help each other. Encouraging the existence and growth of the other — your neighbor — and understanding how that encouragement can bring benefit back to the individual, is the keystone of an equitable neighborhood: It is the conviction that we can all grow together, with each other, without holding each other back. 

    I believe equitable, active neighboring is creating space to have all take part in business, social, and entertainment aspects of community. Acknowledging people’s basic rights to impact and help shape what is happening in a neighborhood, and setting up scaffolded opportunities for that to happen. For individuals and organizations alike, it is simple acts of kindness and leadership that encourage a positive and improved quality of life.” 

     — DS Kinsel, BOOM Concepts 

    This exhibition occurs at a vital moment in the story of KST’s neighborhood, East Liberty, whose “health” is too-often measured along the lonely axis of economic growth. What happens when we check-up on our neighborhood from a different perspective? When we ask: Do I know my neighbors’ names? How do I extend care to them? How can we better rely on each other? — the answers reveal a far more complete picture of a community’s health than the number of new developments or hip restaurants along the main street. So, what can we each do to build stronger, more equitable neighborhoods? 

    “Day to day, this means a variety of actions and engagements that always consist of somebody sacrificing or donating knowledge, time, or money. It looks as simple as free tax services, shoveling snow for neighbors, childcare scholarships, youth sports coaches, businesses hosting community celebrations, mutual aid initiatives, clean green spaces, and contracting local creative talent across expertise.”

     — DS Kinsel, BOOM Concepts 

    For full season details, KST COVID policy updates, and tickets, go to kelly-strayhorn.org

    Access the PDF HERE


    ABOUT THE ARTISTS

    Takara Canty is a classically trained visual artist from Garfield Heights in Pittsburgh PA. From adolescence the artist has been creating and collaborating. Canty’s art is largely inspired by prominent artists like Frida Kahlo. Canty studied studio art in college, but working in traditional studio art class environments shrank her potential. Just a few credits shy of graduation, Canty decided to drop out and pursue art her way. For ten years, Canty has taught at-risk children in the Homewood, Hill District, Garfield, and Braddock neighborhoods where she workshops, tags, and paints. The artist has curated adult painting classes, painted murals, installed mosaic pieces on buildings all while raising her kids. Canty has worked with nationally known artists including George Gist, Therman Statman and James Simon, and has exhibited with Boom Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA.

    Sophia Fang is a startup marketer by trade, a creative dabbler by nature, and a social impact creator by purpose—all towards the artist’s personal mission to build vibrancy in her community. 

    With a passion for empowering local entrepreneurs, makers, and creators, Fang is an MBA candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a ROMBA Fellow, a Commissioner on the Seattle Arts Commission, and a Venture For America alumni fellow. The artist finds joy in beautifying public spaces in her Seattle hometown and the Rust Belt. As an artist, she has always wondered what it means to exist — in relationship to the self, to others, and to the spaces and communities that we claim and claim us. Her murals combine whimsy and community joy to celebrate small businesses, immigrant placemaking, and food diasporas. Her work is represented at love, Pittsburgh, Heinz History Center Museum Shop, Adda Coffee & Tea, or her online shop. Fang graduated in 2018 from Pomona College, where she double majored in Economics & Digital Media Studies.

    atiya jones is a multidisciplinary artist exploring themes of human connection, gentrification, migration and isolation. Visually, she depicts the effects of accumulative action/community through her WildLines. jones utilizes her artwork and any subsequent press to create and hold discourse centering her Black experience as an artist, woman, transplant, and wanderer. The artist is also CEO of TWELVE\TWENTY STUDIO, est. 2017. Jones believes that art is and should be everywhere, and she used this impetus to offer affordable work. jones’s sites have included Crown Barbershop, Fieldwork Gallery, The Carnegie Museum of Art in the group show, Locally Sourced, Trace Brewery, Tryp Hotel and Knotzland.Clients include Pantene Pro-V and Head & Shoulders, Old Blood Noise Endeavors, and restaurants The Vandal and Speedy Romeo (NY). jones hails from Brooklyn, NY and has been a Pittsburgh resident and artistic community contributor since 2016. Jones has participated in residencies in Rochester, NY, Grand Rapids, MI and Pittsburgh, PA.

    Maggie Lynn Negrete is a storyteller specializing in illustration, zines and educating all ages about ecosystems from gardens to astrology. Negrete is the Art Director for Women in Sound and is a member of the #notwhite Collective. Negrete’s visual art focuses on hand lettering, portraiture, technical illustrations and radial designs for freelance clientele and for individual merchandise under the brand La Mama Magia. Negrete is a Pittsburgh resident and Vassar college alumni with over ten years of experience teaching in out of school settings. Her work explores femininity, community, and the occult with aesthetics influenced by 19/20th century illustration, psychedelia and a heritage of printers.

    A proud Pittsburgh native, Jameelah Platt trained in Fine Art at the University of Art in Philadelphia Pa. Platt’s work seeks out the anecdotes and fables of people of color, to reanimate the familiar narratives we are told and experience as children. Her goal is to to translate the nostalgic moments that we can mutually acknowledge and embrace as a community through the language of gestures and movement with the human figure.Her studio practice is driven by her interest in the art of story-telling, color, art history, assemblage and the decorative adornment of objects, spaces and people. She is currently a member of The Coloured Section Artist Collective and an artist in residence with the BrewHouse Association’s Distillery Emerging artist Residency.

    Danielle Robinson is a Pittsburgh-based artist who graduated from CAPA, and attended both Columbus College of Art and Design and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. A resident of Garfield, Robinson often collaborates with other local artists and musicians. Her main subjects are Black women and animals, rendered as goddesses, beasts, and super heroes. Her work takes graffiti with art deco and African art as its origin points, which she combines towards innovative new styles.


    ABOUT BOOM CONCEPTS

    BOOM Concepts is a creative hub dedicated to the advancement of Black, Brown, queer and femme artists. BOOM Concepts is located in Pittsburgh and since 2014 has curated 50 exhibitions on-site, paid out over $100k in artists fees and produced 200+ events across the country. BOOM Concepts serves as a space for field building, knowledge sharing, mentorship, and storytelling. In its 9th year, BOOM Concepts continues to work with creatives to find innovative strategies around entrepreneurship and artistic practice. In 2021, BOOM Concepts was selected to represent Pittsburgh for the Google Arts & Culture platform and was identified as an American Cultural Treasure through The Heinz Endowments and The Ford Foundation.


    ABOUT THE CURATOR

    DS Kinsel is an award winning creative entrepreneur and cultural agitator. He expresses his creativity through the mediums of painting, printmaking, collage, installation, curating,  performance and public art. Kinsel’s work puts focus on themes of space keeping, urban tradition, hip-hop, informalism and cultural re-appropriation.  A former AmeriCorps Public Ally member, D.S. has also been recognized as an Awardee of the Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40, Pittsburgh Magazine PUMP 40 Under 40, Pgh Tech Council Creative of The Year,  the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s “Top Ten People To Meet in 2016” and the Incline’s “Who’s Next” for 2018.  D.S has served as a board member of Pittsburgh Center for Creative REuse and the Black Transformative Arts Network.  Kinsel currently serves on the advisory board for Shady Lane School, PearlArts Studios, and the Artist Communities Alliance.


    ABOUT KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER

    Named after 20th century entertainment legends Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is reflective of the passion that its founders had for the arts. Today,  Kelly Strayhorn Theater carries on the legacy of its founders by fostering bold and innovative artistry with a global perspective. KST celebrates diversity in voice, thought, and expression, and upholds a firm commitment to inclusion. Furthermore, KST provides a safe and welcome space for dialogue and artistic expression for all who enter.

    Kelly Strayhorn Theater has a dynamic footprint in Pittsburgh, with two venues running along Penn Avenue. KST’s Alloy Studios is a cultural hub in the heart of East Liberty, and the historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located in the thriving business district. More than 20 years after the founding of the theater, KST continues to use its broad reach to impact the contemporary arts and the community.