Contemporary ballet

Inside Texture Contemporary Ballet’s Uncharted | Dance | Pittsburgh

Marc Simpson Photography

The unknown dancers Alexandra Tiso and Alan Obuzor

Alexander Graham Bell’s adage “When one door closes, another door opens” came true for Alexandra Tiso of Texture Contemporary Ballet. to earn a place in the professional company. When that door closed, Alan Obuzor, one of her instructors at PBT, opened the door to join his recently launched company Texture Contemporary Ballet. Seven years later, she has become an integral part of the organization which has grown from a project-based company to a full-time dance company.

Tiso started her dance training when she was three years old because her parents thought it would help her focus, especially regarding a speech impediment she had.

“I had my own invented language and didn’t talk to anyone,” says Tiso. “When my parents picked up my older sister from dance class, they noticed that I was really into what I was seeing. They thought maybe if they put me in dance class, I would start to speak [in English] to other children.

Tiso says the scheme somewhat worked, but more importantly, it led her to fall totally in love with dancing. This love grew at Texture where she says she can not only improve her dancing and performance, but also expand her horizons as an artist.

“What kept me at Texture was that I had a lot of other opportunities,” says Tiso. “I teach in the corporate class, I am an artistic administrator and I learned to choreograph [in the company] several times, which was really wonderful.

Tiso will have another opportunity to showcase her choreographic talents in a new work she is co-creating with Texture’s Associate Artistic Director Kelsey Batman for the company’s upcoming program. Unexplored. Their work “Up&Up” is titled after a Coldplay song whose music provides the soundtrack to the 30-minute ballet for 10 dancers (including Bartman and Tiso) in sneakers. It is one of two works in the program on the theme of public versus private characters. Here, Bartman and Tiso address the possible tragic downsides of disguising troubling issues in life.

Obuzor’s art director contributes “The Piece,” a rare 40-minute behind-the-scenes look at how Obuzor creates ballet for Texture. And former PBT dancer Christopher Bandy’s new work for the company ’til the wheels come off’ features six dancers to music by Tom Waits and, like ‘Up&Up’, deals with public and private figures.

For Tiso, another aspect of her fit with Texture is the athleticism found in many of the company’s works that play to her strengths as a dancer.

“When I dance on stage, it’s like a deployment of all my energy,” says Tiso. This athleticism is also what draws the public into the business and will be on full display in Unexplored.