This summer marks the 8th annual Reed Dance Intensive, a 2-week festival of technique classes and repertory with students ages 12-25. Greer Reed, Artistic Director of Reed Dance, began the festival at the Alloy Studios. Although the location has changed over the years, Reed is pleased that the intensive returned “home” last year.
The festival has grown significantly over the years. Early on, participants mostly came from the Pittsburgh area. Now, there are students in attendance from New York, Ohio, Detroit, and other cities.
Since the beginning, Reed has taught the festival’s classes alongside Terence Greene, a renowned Ohio-based choreographer whose accolades include performing with the Alvin Ailey company; Crystal Frazier, an international dancer and choreographer currently running H2 Dance; and Leslie Anderson-Braswell, a ballerina whose career began at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. This year, Reed added Milton James to the staff. James runs the Reflections Theatre Co-op locally.
From 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, students take technique classes in contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, and acting for dancers. To follow, they study repertory that culminates in a final performance at the end of the two weeks.
As Reed hones in on her curriculum, her biggest desire is to keep the program and choreography about the students. Included in the festival is a good deal of discussion; she and the other teachers listen to the challenges the kids face and allow them to express themselves through movement.
Reed says, “Our mission is to tap into their reality and their existence by having conversations about their daily lives.” She goes on to say that the diversity of the students plays an important role in breaking down racial barriers. Through learning and working together, students realize they have more similarities than differences.
Further, Reed acknowledges that most of her students will not go on to become professional dancers. Her goal is to simply create “dynamic adults.” The discipline learned through dance can be transferred to any career path they might choose.
The closing performance will take place this Saturday at 2:00 at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s main-stage. Seven new works will be presented, ranging from five to twenty minutes each. Every student will have the opportunity to perform, a concept different from other summer programs but important to Reed. She says, “Everybody has different skill levels, but they are all on the same plane. They all matter…everyone will get the opportunity to shine.”
At intermission, the third annual “Brazzy Award” will be given to two local dancers who have achieved excellence in performing over the past season. The award is named after Leslie Anderson-Braswell and highlights one male and one female dancer in any genre.
When: Saturday, August 15th at 2:00 p.m.
Where: Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue in East Liberty
Cost: $25 General Admission, $12 Children 10 and Under