One Step at a Time: Q&A with Alan Obuzor of Texture Contemporary Ballet

Friday, 11 September 2020 08:38 AM Written by 

Artistic Director Alan Obuzor with students of Texture Ballet SchoolTexture Contemporary Ballet is a dance company that creates and presents dynamic, creative dance works that are filled with energy and passion. Texture presents original, innovative choreography, where artists fuse their classical ballet foundations with an array of other styles of dance and movement textures to showcase ballet in a way that is engaging, approachable, relatable and current.

Alan Obuzor is the founder and Artistic Director of Texture Contemporary Ballet, which was founded in 2011, and the Texture Ballet School, founded in 2019. Alan began dancing at the age of nine, and enrolled in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School two yeafrs later. After joining their professional company at the age of 17, Alan danced a variety of principal and soloist roles in classic ballets, and originated soloist roles in new works. Since his choreographic debut in 2002, Alan has choreographed more than 90 works, including many for Texture Contemporary Ballet.

Image: Artistic Director Alan Obuzor with students of Texture Ballet School

What is your philosophy behind presenting contemporary and neoclassical work as you curate your seasons?

We enjoy the aesthetics and refinement of ballet, but overall we have a strong love and appreciation for freedom of movement and for all different forms of dance and movement. Much of our work has a base or structure in ballet, but when putting together a season, or even an individual piece, we don't confine ourselves to only one way of moving. We love to explore the many different ways to mix together opposing ideas, contrasting kinds of movement. We love to keep our fans, and our artists, on their toes, so that they never know quite what to expect.

Texture Ballet Dancer Madeline Kendall. Photo by Mark Simpson.

How would you describe the genre of music that you use most often? How does this impact your choreography?

Generally we have a wide array of music that we use, our most used types of music tend to be new instrumental, classical, indie, pop, alternative, original compositions or remakes. Music has a huge influence on our choreography! Dance and music is an amazing pairing that meld together and can create something that is bigger than either of the two on their own. With our choreography, sometimes music comes first, then we build the rest of the piece around that, other times a concept comes first then we search until we find the perfect piece of music to bring that idea to fruition, then still other times, it is a combination of both of those two things working together.

Collaborations with live musicians are always amazing! We have so many wonderful memories from those collaborations. A few that come to mind are from our mainstage shows when we worked with Cello Fury, Meeting of Important People, and Justin Edward Keim & Vincent Randazzo!

Another impressive arm of Texture's work is its youth programming. How has this programming changed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic?

For several years, we have presented interactive children's performances at the New Hazlett Theater. In September of 2019 we opened our own school which has enabled us to work at a much more in depth level with young people.

After the coronavirus pandemic hit we moved a full schedule of dance classes into a virtual format. Since then, we have implemented many new procedures at our studios to make in-person classes safe and possible, while also making virtual attendance an option for all of our classes.

Texture Resident Dancers-Photo by Mark Simpson

How has the change of environment, from the studio to home, inspired you to create and innovate in ways that you might not have if you were in the studio full time?

I think artists are always very influenced by their surroundings, sometimes more consciously, and sometimes more unconsciously. Texture is a new works company, and therefore our choreographers and dancers on a regular basis are always creating new steps and movements, learning and adapting to new configurations of steps and finding new ways to move. With the inherent nature of our artists to create, and with a change in settings (studio to home or outside), there have been some possibilities that have closed and there have been some other possibilities that have opened. With any change in environment there is opportunity for growth and evolution. The current situation made us even more able to adapt to new situations, enhanced our appreciation for connection with other people, broadened our idea of what or where we could call a "stage," and helped us each to connect with ourselves.

Get to know the Texture Contemporary Ballet company on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can find information on their website for both dancers and choreographers on how to audition. You can also learn about the Texture Ballet school on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo credits: Texture Ballet Dancer Madeline Kendall, and resident dancers. Photos by Mark Simpson.


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