For his latest dance project, choreographer Kyle Abraham drew inspiration from two iconic sources: the John Singleton film "Boyz N The Hood" and W.E.B DuBois' essay collection, "The Souls of Black Folk." The result is "Pavement," a dance work that brings the stories of two historically black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh -- Homewood and the Hill District -- to the stages of Harlem.
Consisting of seven dancers -- six men and one woman -- the performance is an homage to the 1990s hip-hop era as well as a reflection on decades of discrimination and escapism in American culture. It follows the story of a single group of friends, striving to maintain relationships in the face of physical and emotional pain, experienced by individuals and the communities as a whole. Combining sounds bites from the iconic Singleton film as well as operatic music from Handel's "Carestini," the work is an intimate take on Abraham's own formative years in Pittsburg.
Abraham told the Huffington Post in an e-mail: "Women play possibly the strongest role in [Boyz N The Hood] to me...but in most cases, there is one woman in each clique or frame," he stated. "I was also thinking about the younger women in the film and how they tend to only be seen in scenes with one woman and a group of men. There isn't really a Pittsburgh connection that drew me to just cast one woman [in 'Pavement']. I just wanted a woman that I knew could take on the roles of the Mother, Lover, Sister, and 'down-ass ride or die sista.'"
The world premiere of “Pavement” is Nov. 1-3, 2012 at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse. The project is the second commission this fall from Harlem Stage’s “Waterworks” program that presents new performance work by artists of color.